Health activists are considering taking legal action to prevent maternity services in Caithness being permanently downgraded.
Caithness Health Action Team (Chat) said it was in talks with a lawyer about the possibility of an emergency injunction to block a decision taken by NHS Highland last week.
The health board voted unanimously to convert maternity services to a community midwife unit (CMU), rather than being led by consultant obstetricians as it has previously.
The decision came after a review of neonatal services following the “potentially avoidable” death of a newborn baby from the e.coli sepsis infection just 40-hour after she was born in September 2015.
Five newborn babies have died at Caithness General since 2010.
Mothers thought to be at risk of birthing complications will be taken more than 100 miles to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
Chat has consistently opposed the suggestion and yesterday confirmed it is considering legal action.
In an update on social media, a spokeswoman for the group said: “We are currently in discussions with a lawyer in Edinburgh to see whether we can be granted an emergency injunction to prevent Caithness General Hospital being permanently reclassified as a CMU.
“It’s an expensive and complex option but we’re not ruling it out.”
A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “The decision to change to a midwife-led community maternity unit was made on the grounds of safety and was supported by two independent reviews.
“We will, of course, continue to work with members of CHAT and others to help address any concerns they may have about the new arrangements.
“We are not aware of any legal challenges, but if and when we are, we will then consider what appropriate actions to take.”
Chat also they are talking to NHS Highland about facilities for families needing accommodation as part of the shake-up can be improved in the short and long term.