RUMOURS suggesting the health authorities would like to see the closure of Andover War Memorial Hospital are wide of the mark, says the chief executive of the Mid Hampshire Primary Care Trust Chris Evennett.

In a letter circulated to doctors and other staff at the hospital, as well as local councillors, Mr Evennett sets out some of the developments planned for the site.

"The Primary Care Trust is aware of rumours circulating that there is an intention to close the site, and wish to provide reassurance that this is not our intention, nor is it the intention of the Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare Trust," he said.

"We would not be supporting the development of the nursing home or the GP surgery if we did not feel that the site has a long term future.

"In fact we see an exciting future with Andover War Memorial Hospital at the forefront of our development of local services."

Fears for the future of the hospital have been heightened by the announcement of the overnight closure of the minor injuries unit at the hospital from 1 July.

General changes to health care services nationally, which have seen a greater concentration of resources at district general hospitals in a bid to shorten waiting times for operations, have added to concerns.

Work has started at the Andover hospital for a 66-bed nursing home in the middle of the site. The facility will open its doors next year, says Mr Evennett.

The trust is also working with GPs towards the provision of a new purpose built GP surgery in the hospital to replace current accommodation. In the past two years the trust has invested to improve back pain and physiotherapy services on site and funding has been made available for a rapid access chest pain clinic to be developed at the hospital.