Campaigners backed by four councils have won the first round of their legal action over a claim that a consultation over changes at Horton General Hospital was flawed.
They want to prevent plans by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to downgrade maternity and critical care services at the hospital in Banbury.
Their campaign has been supported by nearby councils: Cherwell District Council, South Northamptonshire Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Banbury Town Council.
A statement from barristers at Landmark Chambers said: “Campaign group Keep the Horton General has won an important first step in the battle against the downgrading of Horton Hospital.
“Fraser J today granted permission to apply for judicial review of the consultation process.”
The Administrative Court in July refused on the papers permission for a full hearing, but Cherwell successfully challenged that decision this week.
Oxfordshire CCG said last month that its proposed changes would “ensure safety, quality and better outcomes for patients”.
It said the critical care unit at Horton would be downgraded to cater only for less seriously ill patients and it would also lose some beds.
A single specialist obstetric unit would be created at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital and only a midwife service would remain at Horton, though it would gain an improved diagnostic and outpatient service.
A CCG spokesperson said: “We are fully aware of the outcome of today’s oral hearing seeking permission for a judicial review and will co-operate with the process as appropriate.”