Secretary of State announces £250 million extra funding for AI in healthcare

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has announced an extra £250 million funding that will be used to increase the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare.

The announcement builds on the mandate of NHSX to develop the use of technology in the health service.

In making the announcement, the Secretary of State commented that:

“I want [the NHS] to be the best it possibly can be, and to do that we’ve got to harness the very best technology to make sure that we deliver care in the best way possible.”

“I want our AI lab to generate cutting-edge technology to diagnose illnesses like sepsis, stroke and heart attacks before symptoms appear.”

However, there are concerns that this funding must be driven by patient need, not only for ‘technologies sake’. Director of the independent charity the Health Foundation, Adam Steventon, commented that:

“The proposed AI lab is a welcome investment in NHS analytics, and there is scope for this to support analytics rights across the health system. However, given the questions raised about other funding announcements this week, we will need to ensure there’s clarity on where this money will come from and whether there may need to be trade-offs.”

Mr Steventon was particularly concerned that the NHS could struggle to take advantage of the new technology given staff shortages and a maintenance backlog for key infrastructure.

The King’s Fund’s Matthew Honeyman also emphasised the need for IT education to accompany the new technologies:

“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like AI will require standards to ensure patient safety, a workforce equipped with digital skills, and an upgrade to outdated basic NHS tech infrastructure.”

See more information on this development from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) here.

Find out more on NHSX.

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Published 9. August 2019 in News, News UK