A HOSPICE nurse who made inappropriate comments on Facebook has kept her job after apologising.

Nicki Smith has apologised for insulting a fellow user and saying he would be unwelcome at Fair Havens Hospice, where she works as a nursing assistant, after criticising the charity’s plans for a new £15 million facility on green belt land.

In a statement released after a three-week hospice investigation into the comments, Ms Smith said: "I deeply regret the comments I put on Facebook.

“I made them in the heat of the moment and they certainly do not reflect the views of the hospice.

“I am very sorry to everyone for the offence they caused.”

The charity, which launched the probe after a friend of Mr Jones reported the comments to the Echo, refused to reveal whether Ms Smith faces disciplinary action to protect employee confidentiality, but said she has kept her job.

Ms Smith attacked Barry Jones on the social networking site for criticising the charity’s announcement that it would appeal Southend Council’s decision to throw out its plans for a new hospice on land off Belton Way West, Leigh.

In a tirade, which kicked off with a four-letter insult, Ms Smith vowed to remember Mr Jones’s comments if his name “ever comes up on the referral board and there’s only one bed left”.

She also told him he “won’t be welcome” if Havens does manage to build its new hospice, on the Leigh site or elsewhere.

Former colleague Lisa Baker, of Canvey, jumped to her friend’s defence, saying Ms Smith was one of the best carers she had ever met.

A hospice spokeswoman said: "This was a very regrettable incident. The matter has been fully investigated and appropriate action taken.

“Nicki Smith is not involved in decisions about admissions to the hospice. These are considered by a multi-disciplinary team of senior healthcare professionals and are always decided on the basis of a person's clinical needs."