The Nova Scotia government is moving ahead on the much anticipated expansion of one of the province's busiest hospitals.

The cost of the $7 million for the expansion’s design work will be shared by the province, the QEII Health Sciences Centre and the Dartmouth General Hospital Charitable Foundation.  

The province is putting $5.25 million toward design work for the expansion of the Dartmouth General Hospital and for a new expansion at the Halifax site. The foundations will contribute the remaining $1.75 million.

Health Minister Leo Glavine said the plan is to renovate two floors at the Dartmouth General Hospital then expand up and out.

"Third and fourth is really ready to go and as soon as the design for the fifth floor and the surgical tower, Dartmouth General's renewal will be underway," he said.

But that long-discussed fifth floor expansion to add 50 beds to the often overcrowded hospital likely won't start until 2016.

"Within 18 months we'll have the design and the fifth floor should be ready to go at that stage," said Glavine

Bill MacMaster, chair of the Dartmouth General Hospital Charitable Foundation. said he's not frustrated by the delay.

"No, I understand it does move slow but we've been involved from the start and we're very happy that they take our input and we're hoping it can move forward," he said.

MacMaster said the province hasn't yet come up with a figure for the overall cost of the expansion or how much the foundation will have to kick in once the designs are finalized. Details are still to come on work at the QEII.