Two new wards look set to be built in a Northampton General Hospital car park in order to relieve overrun staff.
The two-storey modular building would be constructed in the A&E car park by October, should the scheme be approved by the NHS.
The hospital is currently the busiest it has ever been and the plan would provide 60 extra beds.
As well as shorter waiting times in A&E, benefits may also be seen for people waiting for heart, muscle, bone and gynaecological surgery.
Dr Sonia Swart, the chief executive, said: “It would give extra capacity for emergency patients but it would also mean A&E patients would not be taking up beds in other wards.
“One of the main reasons that operations are cancelled is because emergency patients have to be put in other departments.”
The plan follows a long, and not entirely successful, battle by the county council and the NHS to make sure fit patients are discharged quickly from much-needed beds.
It has now been accepted by NGH that a significant relief from the over-capacity crisis will only come if new wards are built on-site.
The news follows a winter that has broken all NGH records for both levels of illness and numbers of emergency patients.
Dr Swart admitted cash is tight for a new build, but said NGH cannot endure another year without extra wards.
She said: “Every single day is a battle to find beds for patients.
“That’s a pressure that is exhausting. There are times when staff won’t be at their best in terms of the way they treat patients. It’s inevitable.
“We’ll struggle to balance the books but unless we have these beds, we won’t be able to run the hospital safely.”