Health chiefs have moved a step closer to revamping Ayrshire’s A&E services.
A massive £22 million could be spent on the overhaul at both Ayr and Crosshouse.
And a proposal to win major funding from the Scottish Government has now gone to Holyrood.
Bosses at NHS Ayrshire and Arran have approved an outline business case for the development.
The ambitious plans would see Ayr Hospital receive a new-build accident and emergency department to replace the existing facility.
It would contain 14 treatment rooms, four resuscitation bays and 10 observation spaces, plus a triage room.
A consultant-delivered service would operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Another aim is the creation of ‘front door’ entry points to urgent and emergency services.
This means the accident and emergency department will be the ‘front door’ for patients who need unscheduled or urgent care.
From there they can access a number of hospital services, ranging from A&E to ADOC (Ayrshire Doctors on Call).
The capital cost of developments at Ayr would stretch to £10.7 million, with a similar revamp planned at Crosshouse.
Government chiefs have capped the project’s funding at £15.5 million, meaning NHS bosses will make up the £6.5 million shortfall.
Liz Moore, director of integrated care and emergency services at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: “These developments underline our focus on designing services around the needs of patients and will ensure the hospital provides services which are clinically effective and sustainable over the medium to long term.”
She added that services would be provided in “a high quality environment which is fit for purpose for staff, patients and visitors,” and would allow NHS Ayrshire and Arran to “recruit and retain high quality skilled staff”.
If the outline business case is approved, a full business case will be submitted to the government by December 2013.
Subject to approval, building could begin in February 2014 with completion by September 2015.
Ayr MSP, John Scott, said: “This proposed investment is very welcome and will support the long term provision of twelve hour per day, seven day per week consultant-delivered A&E services at both Ayr and Crosshouse hospitals, which is the level of service that I have pressed for over many years.
“Given the historic concerns over the future of A&E services locally, it is good news that these plans have now been brought forward and I will support in any way I can the case being made by NHS Ayrshire and Arran to the Scottish Government for the funding needed to make them a reality.”