AN £18MILLION development has been given the green light as part of a £90m-plus investment in the NHS.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said the boost showed the Scottish Government's commitment to providing world-class care.

Two new projects aimed at improving health services have been given the go-ahead.

For one, £17.9m is being invested at Monklands General Hospital, Airdrie, which will see the creation of a 10-bed intensive care unit and the refurbishment of seven operating theatres.

Work at there is to start this year and should be finished in 2018.

The Scottish Government has also approved the £75m development of East Loth-ian Community Hospital, which will provide ortho-paedic services, stroke rehabilitation, enhanced imaging facilities and a social care day unit.

Construction work on the site could begin next year, while it is hoped the new hospital could open by the end of 2017.

Mr Neil said: "Having the best health facilities and services, in the right place, is rightly important to patients and that is why I am delighted that these two projects have been given the green light.

"This considerable invest-ment reflects the Scottish Government's commitment to ensure that every patient in Scotland has access to world-class care in innovative health facilities."

Colin Sloey, the director of strategic planning and per-formance at NHS Lanark-shire, said: "Monklands Hospital is the subject of ongoing investment to ensure that all facilities in the hospital are able to support the ever-increasing demand for specialist acute clinical care and meet the highest standards of treatment and care now and in future."

Rhona Roberton, director of hospital services at Monklands, said: "The upgrade will provide a facility which is fitted to the highest standards, improve the provision of ICU care and modernise healthcare delivery."