Campaigners have been given hope after the government called for a review of the decision to close a ward for dying patients.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has asked experts to look at whether the NHS was right in its consultation over the closure of the G5 ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.
It comes after councillors complained that they had not been asked about the move.
He has now referred the matter to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel – which advises ministers on changes to NHS services that have been contested locally.
It is fairly rare for cases to be referred to the panel. This year it has undertaken five initial assessments and done one full review.
The panel will now look at the consultation Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust carried out and decide if it acted in accordance with the NHS 2006 Act.
It will report back to Mr Lansley by the end of the month and he will then decide whether or not to launch a full inquiry.