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Health Secretary announces £250 million investment in artificial intelligence

The National Artificial Intelligence Lab will use artificial intelligence to improve the health and lives of patients

The National Artificial Intelligence Lab will use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the health and lives of patients.

The new NHS AI Lab use technology to work on some of the biggest challenges in health and care, including earlier cancer detection, new dementia treatments and more personalised care. AI is already being developed in some hospitals, successfully predicting cancer survival rates and cutting the number of missed appointments.

‘We are on the cusp of a huge health tech revolution that could transform patient experience by making the NHS a truly predictive, preventive and personalised health and care service,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. ‘I am determined to bring the benefits of technology to patients and staff, so the impact of our NHS Long Term Plan and this immediate, multimillion pound cash injection are felt by all. It’s part of our mission to make the NHS the best it can be.’

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the AI Lab’s work could improve cancer screening by speeding up the results of tests use predictive models to better estimate future needs of beds, drugs, devices or surgeries, andidentify which patients could be more easily treated in the community. Additionally, it could identify patients most at risk of diseases such as heart disease or dementia, allowing for earlier diagnosis and cheaper, more focused, personalised prevention.

‘The experts tell us that because of our NHS and our tech talent, the UK could be the world leader in these advances in healthcare, so I’m determined to give the NHS the chance to be the world leader in saving lives through artificial intelligence and genomics.’

‘Whilst technology will never be able to replace the compassion and empathy a person can offer, it could undoubtedly enhance treatment and free up clinicians’ time for patient care. The funding announced by the government will give the NHS a welcome boost in its ability to develop new technologies like artificial intelligence,’ said Matthew Honeyman, Researcher at The King’s Fund.

‘Just as important as the money announced today is the health service’s readiness to adopt new technology. Many staff in the NHS currently feel that IT makes their life harder, not easier. Rolling out new technologies like AI will require standards to ensure patient safety, a workforce equipped with digital skills, and an upgrade to outdated basic NHS tech infrastructure.’