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Frimley Health has taken possession of a new emergency assessment centre (EAC) that will begin receiving patients within weeks.

Trust CEO Neil Dardis and Kier managing director Cliff Thomas stood outside the new EAC buildingThe £49m state-of-the-art centre at Wexham Park Hospital was officially handed over by developer Kier during a meeting of the Trust's Council of Governors.

The EAC is an urgent care building that includes a range of A&E services on the ground floor, 24-hour assessments on the first floor and short stay medical and surgical care on the second. For the first time, these disciplines will be under one roof, increasing collaboration between doctors, nurses and clinical teams.

The concept was developed by Frimley Health clinicians and designed entirely around modern patient needs, where more people are presenting with multiple, complex conditions. These often require a multidisciplinary approach, so the new design will help to diagnose and treat patients better and faster.

Preparations to occupy of the building are now in full swing, with medical and surgical short stay units moving to the second floor in late February. Phase two is set for early March when the ambulatory emergency care and acute assessment units open on the first floor.

The move will complete in April when the emergency department opens on the ground floor.

Hundreds of staff are undergoing orientation tours and systems in the building are being tested. Emergency and health care partners are also being familiarised with the new building to ensure a smooth transition.

Kier began building work began in April 2017 and successfully delivered the project on time and to budget. Kier managing director Cliff Thomas formally handed over a glass plaque, representing the keys to the building, to Frimley Health chief executive Neil Dardis.

The huge investment, the biggest at the hospital since it was built, will replace and consolidate Wexham Park's much older emergency department and several other urgent care services.

New patient pathways have been developed to make care more efficient and allow patients to be care for more quickly in the right place. For example patients may be brought directly to a ward via a GP with going to A&E or be given necessary tests and medication during the day so they can safely return home without needing to be admitted to a ward.

The new building sits at the main entrance to the hospital. Despite its size, its impact lessened by a screen or trees that shields it from the main road. 

It is the second major construction project at Wexham Park following a £10m upgrade to maternity and gynaecology services, officially opened by Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke in January 2018.