AN OPTIMISTIC mood reigned at the High Court today as campaigners battled for the future of Lewisham Hospital.

Mums and babies, medical staff, MPs and councillors gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice for the opening of a three-day hearing against plans to downgrade the hospital’s A&E and maternity services.

A packed court room- turned out for the launch of two judicial reviews against the Trust Special Administrator’s (TSA) “unlawful” recommendations which were approved by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

MP for Lewisham Deptford Joan Ruddock said: “I am feeling optimistic because I think the only person in the country who isn’t against this complete travesty is the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt.

"So if there is any justice we should win this case.

“I have never known a campaign of this size with the public, GPs, hospital workers and Lewisham council all against it.

“There is just this incredible support in Lewisham who are determined this will not happen and that gives us all great hope.”

Lewisham Council and Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners’ two separate reviews will run alongside each other.

The council claims the former TSA Matthew Kershaw’s powers over debt-saddled South London Healthcare Trust did not extend to Lewisham Healthcare Trust and is therefore unlawful.

Its second argument – if that fails – backs Save Lewisham Hospital's claim that the TSA and Health Secretary did not meet the criteria of four tests required for the reconfiguration of NHS services.

Representing Lewisham Council, Elisabeth Laing, told presiding judge Justice Silber: “Kershaw was appointed to a completely different trust – South London HealthcareTrust.

"By contrast, it has desperate financial problems. Those recommendations are lawful and the council has no quarrel with that.

“Legally they [the trusts] are different entities. Each is independent of the other.

“We say the appointment of the TSA to Lewisham would be irrational and unlawful.”

Around 60 people piled in to the court room after a vocal protest outside the courts of around 200 mothers, babies and residents brandishing placards.

Frances Jones, supervisor of midwives at Lewisham Hospital, said: “It is fantastic to see the support from local mothers here today.

"That shows how much they value the service provided at Lewisham Hospital.”

The hearing is set to run until Thursday and will hear from barristers representing Save Lewisham Hospital and the TSA and Health Secretary. A decision on the case is expected to be made a couple of weeks later.