A bid to downgrade services at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust could end in court, it has emerged.

Both Stafford Council and local campaigners said they are prepared to take legal action against the trust special administrators if the proposals to downgrade the hospital are implemented.

This would be the first legal challenge of the government’s failure regime for foundation trusts under legislation in the Health and Social Care Act.

It comes after the High Court overturned the health secretary’s decision to downgrade Lewisham Healthcare Trust’s emergency department in July using earlier legislation.

Trust special administrators are currently halfway through a public consultation on plans to reduce services at Mid Staffordshire which has been declared both clinically and financially unviable.

Under their plans Mid Staffordshire would be dissolved and divided between neighbouring University Hospital of North Staffordshire and the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust.

It will retain an accident and emergency department, open between 8am and 10pm, along with a reduced critical care unit. It would no longer have a maternity unit, emergency surgery or inpatient paediatric services.

Karen Howell, from the Support Stafford Hospital campaign group, said: “We are looking at solicitors with a view to appointing a London based solicitor with expertise in this area. It’s about looking at the process of the consultation - we will get legal guidance as well as if we go to judicial review, collating the evidence.”

Mike Smith, deputy leader of Stafford Council, urged residents to “have their say” to send a “loud and clear message” to administrators. “If that message is not heard then we would be prepared to pursue legal action,” he added.