WARDS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital that were due to be sold off as part of the rescue plan are to remain open and get a £1.8million facelift. The NHS Cambridgeshire-backed rescue plan had envisaged reducing Hinchingbrooke's workload by between 20 and 25 per cent, transferring that treatment into GPs' surgeries and health centres across the district by this year. That would have meant the Medical Assessment and Rehabilitation Unit (Mars) at the back of the hospital, which also houses three wards and part of the Cambridgeshire Community Services (CSS) activity - the provider arm of NHS Cambridgeshire - could be sold off. But Hinchingbrooke's workload has increased as GPs continue to believe their patients' best interests are served by referring them to the Huntingdon hospital. At the same time, the Government has demanded that by April next year all ward sleeping accommodation must be single-sex and, for the sake of their privacy and dignity, patients should not have to pass opposite-sex beds on their way to bathroom facilities. Hinchingbrooke was therefore faced with the option of closing the non-compliant wards in Mars, making them single-sex - which for clinical reasons it could not do - or investing cash in bringing them up to the same modern standards as the six fully-refurbished wards at the front of the hospital. It considered a dozen options before deciding that the best value came from the £1.81million upgrade of the 20-bed medical assessment unit and refurbishment of orthopaedic Birch Ward and temporary medical Lavender Ward, each of which has 30 beds.