A consultation into plans to downgrade hospital services in West Sussex is being referred to the government.
Campaigners say plans will create an "A&E desert" in central Sussex
The West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) Fit for the Future plans could lead to two out of three hospitals in the county losing their A&E units.
The committee reviewing a consultation into the proposals voted to refer the process to the health secretary on the grounds that it was inadequate.
West Sussex PCT said it would continue with the public discussions.
The PCT wants only one hospital in the county to have the full range of A&E, emergency surgery and consultant-led maternity services.
St Richard's at Chichester, Worthing and Southlands, and the Princess Royal, Haywards Heath, risk losing A&E units.
The chief executives of the West Sussex PCT and the Brighton and Hove City PCT issued a joint statement which said: "We regret that the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) at its second meeting, has voted to refer the Fit for the Future consultation to the Secretary of State for Health.
"We believe it is vital to the interest of the people of West Sussex to continue our discussions about the options for improving local health services and allow them to have their say.
"From the outset we made it clear that the scope of the redevelopment of services that we envisaged would demand lengthier discussion with the people of West Sussex."
They said they had extended the process from the normal 12 week period to 18 weeks because of the summer holidays and issues involved.
During a consultation meeting last week health bosses said under the proposals the remaining A&E service would be "souped-up" and more paramedics would be on hand to treat patients at the scene of an accident.
It has also outlined its plans for a series of urgent care centres that would deal with less serious injuries.
An e-petition against the trust's proposals has been launched by West Sussex County Council and has been signed by many councillors and local MPs.