Campaigners say they feel vindicated after the High Court ruled United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust did not properly consult with the public when it turned Grantham Hospital into a Covid-free site.
In June last year, the Trust moved a number of services out of Grantham Hospital in order to make it a ‘green site’ in all departments except the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC).
The Trust said the plan was implemented so that planned cancer and urgent surgery could be carried out in an environment away from Covid-19.
Mr Justice Linden said the less than three-day consultation period on those plans was 'not enough to be meaningful or fair' and ruled the making of the decision unlawful.
He did however say that numerous patients had welcomed the changes and that the decision itself was “perfectly rational and was taken in good faith and for proper purposes”.
SOS Grantham campaigner Charmaine Morgan said: "We feel vindicated because we've been saying for a long time that ULHT are not transparent enough when it comes to decisions about Grantham.
"This judgement has ramifications nationally - that even in a pandemic, if trusts are making major changes they must consult with the public and they must listen. So I see this as a victory for all of those campaigners fighting cuts and closures."
She said campaigners would now continue to fight for a full restoration of services to Grantham.
In a statement, Andrew Morgan, the CEO of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said the trust regretted not involving service users sufficiently and that it would not appeal the ruling.
"We apologise to anyone who would have liked to have been more involved in the development of our plans," he said.
"We note that the issue, in this case, was the process by which the decision to create a Grantham Green site was reached, rather than the merits of the decision itself.
"We are pleased that the judge has rejected the claim that the decision itself was unsound, and makes clear that the decision was perfectly rational and was taken in good faith and for proper purposes.
"The judge also commented that there is evidence that numerous patients welcomed the changes and that this is unsurprising given that the decision itself had a great deal to commend it and appears to have been beneficial to many members of the community in Lincolnshire.
"We will reflect on the judge’s ruling and amend and improve our public involvement processes for the future."