A private hospital in Ayr has been bought by the NHS and will be transformed into a specialist hub for orthopaedics.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran struck a deal to snap up Carrick Glen from London-based Circle Health Group for £1.8m at the end of March.
The move is part of efforts to tackle the backlog of patients waiting for procedures such as hip and knee replacements.
Announcing the move on Wednesday, the Scottish Government said the hospital will become part of the network of ten National Treatment Centres (NTCs).
As well as the Golden Jubilee Eye Centre, which opened in November, and the phase two expansion of the hospital due to open in 2023, the network of NTCs will include centres in Fife, Forth Valley, Highland, Grampian, Tayside and Lothian.
The two additional centres in Ayrshire and Cumbernauld, announced last year, and the replacement of the Edinburgh Eye Pavilion create a network of ten centres in total.
Once fully operational, the NTCs are expected to deliver capacity for more than 40,000 additional surgeries and procedures each year.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf announced the purchase during a visit to University Hospital Ayr where he met staff and patients at the orthopaedics services department.
He said: “I am very pleased that Carrick Glen Hospital will become a National Treatment Centre, specialising in orthopaedics.
“These centres will mark the largest expansion in elective care capacity in NHS Scotland with an overall investment of over £400m.
“We know that the pandemic has taken its toll on services like orthopaedics, but the network of NTCs will help address this and will be central to NHS recovery.”
Yousaf thanked the NHS Ayrshire & Arran team for their “continued hard work and determination” to progress the new centre “during a time of continued significant pressure”.
He added: “Within the next 12 months we expect the National Treatment Centres in Highland, Forth Valley, and Fife to come on stream, with a further expansion to the Golden Jubilee hospital becoming operational next summer.
“This expansion, along with the NTC in Ayrshire, will provide significant additional capacity in orthopaedics.”
Circle Health Group will continue to occupy the building on a licence basis until May 14, at which time the NHS will take over occupancy.
Consultation is currently under way with the 11 staff members regarding future employment arrangements.
Dr Joellene Mitchell, consultant anaesthetist and co-clinical lead for the NTC Ayrshire & Arran, said: “We are excited about the purchase of Carrick Glen Hospital to become NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s new National Treatment Centre and what that will mean for residents of Ayrshire and Arran.
“The NTC aims to create additional access to theatre sessions, increase orthopaedic inpatient beds and improve orthopaedic pathways through a whole scale review and redesign of processes, services, staffing and accommodation.
“It will complement the elective centre of excellence on the University Hospital Ayr site, and will mean that we can treat more patients, reducing waiting times and improving patient experience.”