Hospital campaigners were celebrating after a decision to refer a decision over the future of hospital services to the Secretary of State for Health.
Residents and councillors packed out the reception room of South Shields Town Hall, to hear the announcement made by the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
For the past year, campaigners have been fighting against plans as part of Phase One of the Path to Excellence, which they claim would see the downgrading of South Tyneside District Hospital and leave Sunderland Royal Hospital struggling to cope with demand.
Health chiefs say the move will lead to better services.
After the meeting, chairman of the group Roger Nettleship said: “We are very pleased the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee has referred the downgrading of our hospital services to the Secretary of State. We are parilcularly pleased that they are recommending a vote of no confidence in the CCG.
“We were very angry over allegations lives at risk would be put at risk if this move was delayed. In my view, the people putting lives at risk are the people trying to downgrade our hospital.
“This decision enables us to take this fight to save our health services to Westminister. This is a good step forward for the people of South Tyneside and Sunderland.
“This has been a wonderful campaign so far, and we have had more than 40,000 signatures on our petition, major events and demonstrations.
“But we still need people to get behind us. We are not just fighting to save these services, but also for the future of the hospital.”