East and North Herts NHS Trust balances the books after years in the red

PUBLISHED: 14:26 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:26 17 July 2020

Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo

Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo


The NHS Trust that runs the Lister Hospital in Stevenage has managed to balance its books with a surplus of £800,000 – just three years after recording a £29.5m deficit.

The figures were reported at the East and North Herts NHS Trust AGM on Wednesday, and mark the first time since 2013/14 that the Trust has ended the year in surplus. Last year a £13.5m deficit was recorded.

Deputy CEO and director of finance and information Martin Armstrong said the Trust had sought to balance “financial sustainability with quality and performance”.

The figures showed that in the past year the Trust – which operates the Lister Hospital, QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertford Hospital and Mount Vernon – had invested £3.88m on building maintenance, £2.15m on medical equipment, and £3.48m on IT.

Mr Armstrong also told the meeting that an emergency financial framework had been put in place for the first four months of the financial year – ensuring hospitals had the resources necessary to manage the impact of COVID-19.

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Meanwhile, it was also reported at Wednesday’s AGM – which was held virtually – that over the past 12 months the Trust has recorded 556,527 out-patient attendances and 205,491 occupied bed days.

There were 156,439 visits to A&E at Lister, which is 3,447 more than last year – and 15,179 more than in 2015/16.

The number of patients seen in A&E and discharged or admitted within four hours was slightly below the government’s target of 95 per cent – ranging from between 78.9 per cent in December to 86.1 per cent in August.

Chief operating officer Julie Anne Smith said a lot of work had been done to improve performance on cancer services. Data showed that 98.7 per cent of patients suspected of having cancer and 97.14 per cent of patients with symptoms of breast cancer were seen within two weeks last year. It also showed that 97.89 per cent of cancer patients received their first treatment within 31 days.

In other departments, the proportion of patients waiting more than 18 weeks between referral and treatment failed to meet the national target.

Ms Smith said that if had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, this would have been the Trust’s main focus for further improvement.

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