Scotland’s health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has rejected an NHS board’s recommendation to close a hospital.

Lightburn Hospital, in the east end of Glasgow, was earmarked to close following a decision by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to send some patients elsewhere.

The plan was expected to save about £650,000 a year.

Ms Sturgeon said she was not convinced of the case for change.

She said: “The government has a policy of maintaining local access to healthcare services where it is appropriate to do so, and where it is in patients’ best interests. It is my view that local people’s interests are best served by maintaining Lightburn Hospital and its healthcare services.

“I have repeatedly heard - not least from local patients and clinicians - that Lightburn Hospital provides high quality services that are greatly valued by what is a significantly disadvantaged community.

“I also had to consider the real issues around the adequacy and availability of local public transport links, which local people may have used to access the proposed alternative hospital sites.

“It is the case that hospital services are not static and need to change and in that context this has been a difficult decision. In this particular case, I am not convinced by the board’s proposal for change, and am persuaded by the argument for maintaining local access to what is clearly regarded as a valuable and high quality local facility.”

She asked the health board to “maintain and improve” the quality of service.

The health board’s recommendation followed a four-month public consultation involving more than 700 patients.

The board said closing Lightburn Hospital would provide rehabilitation services to patients in higher quality accommodation, with on-site diagnostic and specialist services.

A re-design of inpatient services was expected to mean more patients being treated at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Specialist inpatient rehabilitation for people who had a stroke or an orthopaedic treatment such as a hip replacement were to go to Stobhill.