A two-year campaign to save vascular services at Warrington Hospital is set to rumble on.
After hearing that NHS chiefs in Cheshire and Merseyside had decided there should be two arterial centre for vascular services across the area - one at the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the other at the Countess of Chester Hospital, resulting in the loss of services in Warrington, members of a Joint Overview and Scrutiny panel voted to challenge the decision.
It will be now referred to the Secretary of State Andrew Lansley, who will have the final say on the future of the service. If the challenge is unsuccessful Patients from the Warrington area would be dealt with at the Chester hospital.
Chair of the panel, Warrington councillor Tony Higgins (pictured)
said: "We can not sit back and just allow this to happen as it could have devastating consequences for the people of Warrington.
"Why should Warrington people, who can currently get on a bus, or make a short journey to their local hospital, have to travel to Chester? It does not make any sense.
"There is going to be a lot of hard work involved but by calling in the Secretary of State for a review of the decision gives us a lifeline. It is our final shot at saving this service in Warrington."
The decision to look at moving the services to two hospitals, which follows a review which started in 2010, has caused widespread anger in Warrington.
Both the town's MPs Helen Jones and David Mowat, have spoken out against the move, Warrington, St Helens and Halton borough councils opposed the proposals and thousands of people signed petitions objecting to the changes
But health bosses say there has been a comprehensive review and a full public consultation following recommendations from the Vascular Society and international evidence that complex arterial surgery should be carried out in specialist arterial centres to improve outcomes for patients.
They claim this has been generally accepted across Cheshire and Merseyside.
In a statement, they say the creation of the two specialist arterial centres will mean patients right across Cheshire and Merseyside will benefit from improved services and better outcomes.
In addition, as a result of having specialist arterial centres, the national Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening programme will be launched, leading to more lives being saved across Cheshire and Merseyside.
The new service at Chester would have been implemented on April 1 next year while the Liverpool service could start as early as September 3 this year.
But now the final decision will rest with the secretary of state.