Plans to expand Stevenage's Lister Hospital to provide a state-of the-art vascular theatre - the first of its kind in the UK - have been submitted to the local authority.

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister, wants to attach a hybrid vascular theatre to the existing inpatient theatre block at the hospital site.

In a statement prepared by Fleet Architects Ltd on behalf of the NHS trust, it says: "The proposal to attach a state-of-the-art hybrid vascular theatre to the existing inpatient theatre block at the Lister Hospital site is the first of this kind for the NHS and in the UK at all.

"A vascular theatre will use real time radiographic imaging, known as ‘image guided therapy’ (IGT), to enable surgeons to undertake complex interventions while minimising the impact on the patient, reducing risk and recovery times. Housing this type of service will greatly improve the range of operations and activities possible on the Lister site.

"A hybrid theatre integrates IGT with other theatre applications, and will feature an ultra clean ventilation supply to enable the space to be used for a wider range of surgery."

Acknowledging that "post pandemic, the NHS is wrestling a national elective surgery crisis", the statement says "new facilities such as this will assist the existing staff resources of the NHS to be more productive in safe and modern working conditions".

Consultant vascular surgeon Matt Metcalfe says there are several reasons a hybrid vascular theatre is needed at Lister, including the need to improve radiation safety.

Mr Metcalfe also said: "At present, we are limited in our operating ability and case mix, as we need better imaging to perform procedures such as iliac branched grafts, fenestrated stents, thoracic stents.

"A hybrid theatre is also more carbon friendly.

"Hertfordshire needs to merge Watford General Hospital and Princess Alexandra Hospital with Lister Hospital for vascular activity.

"A hybrid theatre is required to be a vascular hub. Hub formation improves efficiency and patient outcomes. Cost savings occur across the region, due to focused resources, better access to specialist staff and better theatre utilisation.

"More experienced staff undertaking vascular surgery more frequently - by pooling three units together into one unit - is better for patient and has financial savings.”