Reading hospital holds topping-out ceremony

Artist's impression of CircleReading Under England's patient choice scheme, people can choose a private hospital if treatment can be done at NHS prices

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The roof of a new £50m hospital for Reading is being unveiled in a topping-out ceremony on Thursday.

CircleReading, for both NHS and private patients, will be open by autumn 2012 and is expected to create 200 jobs.

The 96,875 sq ft (9,000 sq m) site in Drake Way will include five operating theatres, 30 en-suite patient bedrooms and 18 day surgery beds.

Patients in Reading will be able to choose whether to be treated there or at the local Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Circle, a health firm, is owned by its staff. The Reading site, near the Madejski football stadium, will be its second new-build hospital.

'Five-star hoteliers'

The first opened in Bath in March 2010.

Construction work on the Reading site began in January after securing funding the month before.

Spokeswoman Christina Lineen said hospitality services would be delivered daily by "former five-star hoteliers".

She added that Circle had "plans to build up to 25 new hospitals in the coming years".

Under England's patient choice scheme, people can choose a private hospital if treatment can be done at NHS prices.

A BBC study in December 2010 revealed that the NHS is paying private hospitals £35m a month to treat patients - a rise of more than 60% in a year.

Topping-out ceremonies usually unveil the highest part of a building as a commemorative event.

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