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Hospital chiefs and contractors marked a major milestone in the building of a new £49m emergency department and assessment centre on Friday 5 January.

The ‘topping out’ ceremony for what will be Wexham Park Hospital’s brand new facility marked the symbolic completion of the highest part of the building.

It means Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust’s construction project to provide the community with one of the best emergency departments in the NHS has reached the half-way stage.

Topping out is an opportunity for the hospital trust to thank builders and other contractors for their work. It takes place on completion of the highest part of the building.

To mark the occasion, Cliff Thomas, managing director of Kier Construction London, welcomed guests to the site saying: "We've still got a good way to go but we are in a good state and still targeting to deliver the finished building on time."

Guest of honour Slough Mayor Cllr Ishrat Shah ceremonially topped up concrete around the base of a structural column, the exact spot on the site where ground was broken some eight months ago.

Along with the Mayor, guests included representatives from Frimley Health including emergency department staff, architects, project managers, engineering and mechanical consultants.

Trust chief executive Sir Andrew Morris explained how the new facility would bring enormous benefits to the local community. He said: “This building will be a massive rocket launch to providing state of the art facilities to back up our staff who go the extra mile day after day. It will be the best the NHS has to offer for the 115,000 people who come to the emergency department each year.

“The new ambulatory care unit will help us to turn people around on the day, offering assessment, diagnosis, testing and management plan on a daily basis, so appropriate patients don’t need to be admitted overnight – that will help to ease pressure.”

Nick Payne, chief of service for emergency medicine at Frimley Health added: “I was at Frimley Park Hospital six years ago when we opened the new department there and it was enlightening. We have taken everything we learned there and brought it to this place – it’s going to be something else. The whole emergency department will be fantastic with an outstanding resuscitation area and the new ED is going to be fully supported by a new ambulatory care unit one floor up – all working together.”

Cllr Shah said: “Andrew and all his team have worked hard to bring this hospital to this level and that success is down to team work with every individual making a contribution. Thank you for inviting me and please keep up the hard work.”

Nick Fairham, architect director at BDP, which designed the new emergency assessment centre, commented: “This new element to Wexham Park Hospital is of huge significance to the local community with its innovative design focused on the needs of the patients.

“Important features include an emphasis on bringing the services and clinicians to the patient to provide high quality care where it is most needed and reduce waiting times and travel around the hospital. This approach is supported by the inclusion of assessment beds where patients are attended to by senior clinicians with access to the latest diagnostic tools.”

The emergency department will take up the whole of the ground floor with separate children’s and minors units as well as 36 individual ‘majors’ rooms and eight resus cubicles.

The floors above will include a 34-bed combined assessment and ambulatory care centre, plus short-stay beds. Offices will be built on the fourth-storey at one end.

Building began in earnest in April 2017 although enabling ground works such as cabling and drainage started in December the previous year. By Easter 2018 up to 150 people are expected to be working on the interior, building partitions, laying flooring and installing electrics and other services. The building is on target to be completed within the first few months of 2019.

Frimley Health’s other major investment at Wexham Park, the new maternity and women’s services facility, is now complete with plans for a formal opening later this month.