Two Scottish health boards have been given until the end of the year to come up with revised proposals after the new Scottish National Party government overturned decisions to close accident and emergency departments.

The previous Labour-led Scottish Executive had approved reconfiguration plans which would have seen A&E units close at Ayr and Monklands hospitals.

Last week health and well-being secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced she was reversing the decisions because they did not give sufficient weight to public concerns. 'Many concerns were not based on emotional attachment, as some have alleged, but on critical analysis of local needs.'

The move was greeted with cheers from campaigners in the public gallery of the Scottish Parliament. But former Labour health minister Andy Kerr said it was a 'con' and would put services at risk.

It also emerged last week that Professor David Kerr, whose report Building a Health Service Fit for the Future set out a blueprint for health services in Scotland, had resigned from an implementation group, blaming new work commitments.

But he told BBC Scotland's Politics Show that unpicking A&E decisions would be 'emotional and irrational'.

NHS Lanarkshire chair Ken Corsar said the decision to close Monklands A&E was part of a£300m investment to improve services in line with the Kerr report: 'We do not underestimate the challenge of maintaining three Lanarkshire A&Es while fulfilling the commitment for it to be patient-centred, evidence-based and value for money,' he said.