FEARS that Grays Community Hospital could end up closing have been quashed as health chiefs vow to keep the facility open.

The Alistair Farquharson Centre in Long Lane, will not be affected by a significant shake up to community health services being made by the troubled primary care trust, NHS South West Essex.

The future of the 32 bed hospital was secured during a four hour long meeting of the PCT where bosses agreed to keep the site fully operational.

An option to reduce the number of beds at the centre was touted, however due to the high level of need in the area this idea was unanimously rejected.

Health chiefs, however, did agree to make cuts to other community hospitals in Brentwood and Billericay. Both of these sites will have a total of 33 beds removed permenantly.

The PCT, is aiming to save £1.36million by bringing in the changes, which will now go out to public consultation. The trust faced a £35million defecit last year and needs to save £60million over the coming financial year due to huge overspending.

A swathe of cuts to services, including a freeze on IVF treatments and the scrapping of some once routine operations, have already been introduced to claw back cash.

The budget cuts led to fears the hospital could close altogether.

Tonia Parsons, the PCT's assistant director for out of hospital commissioning, said she hoped patients would now be reassured: "We want to stress that the PCT is committed to providing these services and want to reassure patients that although there are some changes, it will not affect levels of care or the number of patients being looked after."