A LEGAL battle over Lewisham Hospital's services downgrade is still a possibility after the Health Secretary responded to a council ultimatum.

Jeremy Hunt and the South London Healthcare Trust administrators were given until Friday (Feb 22) to withdraw the Lewisham plans or face legal action by Lewisham Council.

Their response has been received by the council but a decision is not expected until Wednesday (Feb 27) while the local authority's lawyers discuss its contents.

A council spokesman said: "It is a detailed response and we will need to discuss it further with our legal advisers. I am afraid it would be inappropriate to go into any more detail at this stage."

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

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