A cottage hospital earmarked for closure has been granted a reprieve by proposals to cut costs through pooling health and social service budgets.

Herefordshire health authority planned to save£100,000 by closing the 11-bed Kington Cottage Hospital as part of a£280,000 package of 'efficiencies'.

The plans were rejected by Herefordshire community health council, which put forward alternative proposals to create a joint residential unit, funded by Herefordshire Community Health trust and Herefordshire council.

The HA has agreed to keep the hospital open while the plans are developed. But the CHC and HA have agreed it should close if 'an acceptable, affordable process' does not emerge during a six-month review.

HA chief executive Melvyn Ellis said he was 'optimistic' that the HA and local authority would be able to agree a joint service specification for health and social care and put it out to tender.