AROUND £3,300 has been pledged by the public so far to help fund a council legal challenge over downgrading Lewisham Hospital services.

Jeremy Hunt has been given until tomorrow (Feb 22) to make a u-turn on plans to downgrade the hospital's A&E and maternity services, or face a legal challenge by Lewisham Council.

The council argues that the South London Healthcare Trust administrator Matthew Kershaw had no legal power to make recommendations regarding a hospital in a neighbouring trust.

And its lawyers will argue that, because the proposed changes are so substantial, they should have been dealt with under the NHS Act.

At a mayor and cabinet meeting last night, members agreed that legal action - at an estimated cost of £200,000 - could go ahead if the deadline was not met.

Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: "This is not the council going through the motions because everybody is angry about what's being proposed for Lewisham."

He said: "We actually believe this is wrong and that's why we have to do this."

The issue will be debated again at next week's full council meeting.

To donate to the council's legal challenge fund, visit the council website.