The construction of Swindon's Great Western Hospital's new Emergency Department reached a major milestone.

Hospital trust chief executive Kevin McNamara joined contractors, staff, and supporters on the roof of the £31m extension to hold a topping-out ceremony on Friday.

They left handprints in wet cement to mark the occasion and helped to rake the final bits of gravel over the top of the building.

Mr McNamara said: "After five years of work to unlock the funding, it’s really exciting to now be stood on the building which has gone up at pace – and which represents the largest investment we’ve made to healthcare in Swindon since the hospital opened."

The 1,492sq m extension will include a new children’s emergency unit, add same-day emergency care and joint initial assessment unit, and improve links between all sections of the department and the new Urgent Treatment Centre.

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The services and care available for walk-ins and patients referred there by GPs will be improved. Ambulance parking bays will increase from five to 14.

The existing emergency care hub was only designed to care for 48,000 patients a year but regularly saw more than 80,000 before the pandemic. 

Work on the new department began in February. It aims to better meet demand, reduce admissions, and shorten stays for patients.