A new £90m mental health unit in South Wales has moved a step closer after Welsh assembly minister Edwina Hart gave her blessing to the scheme.

The proposed inpatient centre at the University Hospital, Llandough, aims to bring together existing adult and specialist services at Cardiff’s Whitchurch Hospital and the Llanfair Unit, Llandough.

Health officials say the 125-bed facility will improve privacy and dignity for mental health patients as well as providing 24-hour specialist medical support.

Today, Mrs Hart approved the Outline Business Case (OBC) made by Cardiff and Vale University health board for the development of the adult acute mental health inpatient unit.

The OBC is the second of a three-stage process - meaning health board officials can now submit a final business case.

A government spokesman said: “The Welsh assembly government has earmarked in excess of £90m for the new unit. This funding will be released following satisfactory completion of a full business case.”

Gower AM Mrs Hart added: “Once opened, this development will improve the care for patients and the working environment for staff.

“By bringing together a range of services and staff under one roof will ensure we maximise the skills of all staff for the benefit of patients.

“We are maintaining our investment in the health service in cash terms over the next three years - despite the impact of the UK government’s cuts to the Welsh budget.”

Dr John Lewis, a senior consultant at Cardiff and Vale University health board - which runs the University Hospital, Llandough - described the assembly government’s approval of the OBC as a key step forward.

He added: “This is good news for patients, staff and the community. Our plans reflect the outcome of a wide public consultation on how we will deliver services in the future.

“It is important to remember that, while the new inpatient unit is a vital part of the model, we are also working hard to develop our community-based services.”