The long awaited new £49million 'emergency and assessment' centre at Slough's Wexham Park Hospital came a step nearer reality today.

Slough's mayor Cllr Cllr Ishrat Shah joined hospital chief executive Sir Andrew Morris, chief of emergency services Nick Payne and Cliff Thomas - Managing Director of Kier Construction which is undertaking the building - for a 'topping out' ceremony.

It was performed in the completed shell of the building, on the exact spot where the groundbreaking ceremony was performed back in April. The site was just open land back then.

The centre is due to be completed by next Christmas and operating early 2019.

It will cover 10,000 square metres, rising four storeys enabling patients who come to the emergency department to be treated and if necessary kept in for up to 72 hours - all in one friendly building.

Prime Minister Theresa May took a keen interest when she visited Frimley Park Hospital last Thursday - Wexham Park being part of the Frimley trust.

Sir Andrew told guests: "The new centre here in Slough will offer privacy and dignity with single rooms not open wards.

"The top floor will have 62 beds so people will not have to be moved out into the main hospital if they need to stay.

"The Prime Minister asked us if we had planned ahead for this Christmas and we said yes and now we are planning for next winter.

"This building will be a massive rocket launch to providing the facilities we need for our excellent staff."

Wexham Park has managed so far to avoid the fate of other hospitals in the country that had to cancel non-emergency operations and appointments till February to free emergency services.

Sir Andrew said its success had largely been down to the Accountable Care system he pioneered at the Frimley trust's hospitals.

It involves doing vital tests on A and E arrivals on the same day, removing the need for them to take up a bed overnight.

The knock on effect of this eases pressure all round on the whole hospital.

Sir Andrew plans to remain in charge of this pioneering system after he stands down as chief executive at the Frimley trust in February.