The new £98million Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot took one giant step nearer to becoming reality when the completed main structure was 'topped out' yesterday.

Hospital bosses and contractors, builders and health care partners gathered to celebrated the completion of the first stage of a new hospital that will provide state-of-the-art NHS services to patients in Berkshire and beyond.

It is being built by Kier Regional Building Southern for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust which runs Heatherwood and the main structure has been completed barely a year since work began.

The new NHS hospital will provide six top-of-the-range operating theatres, a range of outpatient services and up-to-date diagnostics in a superb new building set into woodland.

Ascot has been home to a hospital at Heatherwood for almost a century, but with ageing facilities and a growing need for investment its long-term future was in doubt as recently as five years ago.

The trust’s ambitious plan has seen a new building at the back of the current hospital site take shape while existing services stay fully operational. Services are on track to transfer to the new building next year and the trust aims to double the number of patients visiting Heatherwood each year to 168,000 over the next decade.

Frimley Health chief executive Neil Dardis said: “Our board gave the green light just a year ago and it is remarkable how much progress has been made since then. Kier are doing a fantastic job.

“It is so exciting to reach this milestone and to have the completion of the new hospital in sight. It will be among the best facilities of its kind in the NHS and we will finally have the facilities that our fantastic Heatherwood teams and the patients they care for deserve.”

The new hospital will include: six operating theatres, 48 inpatient beds plus 24 day case cubicles, general surgery, antenatal, paediatric and physiotherapy services, one-stop clinics, including breast and urology, enhanced cardiology diagnostics, orthopaedics and private patient facilities.

A symbolic brick was laid at the top of the new building and Martin Reilly, operations director for Kier, presented Neil Dardis with an engraved trowel.