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UK government announces £21m AI rollout across NHS



NHS staff will be given the latest AI technology to diagnose and treat patients more quickly after the Health and Social Care Secretary announced a new £21 million fund.

Trusts across the health service will be able to apply to the AI Diagnostic Fund to accelerate the deployment of the most promising AI imaging and decision support tools to help diagnose patients more quickly for conditions such as cancers, strokes and heart conditions.

The Health and Social Care Secretary has also committed to rolling out AI stroke-diagnosis technology to 100 per cent of stroke networks by the end of 2023 – up from 86 per cent today  – helping thousands of patients suffering from a stroke get treated sooner.

The ring-fenced funding was announced by Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, ahead of the NHS’s 75th birthday on July 5.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Artificial intelligence is already transforming the way we deliver healthcare and AI tools are already making a significant impact across the NHS in diagnosing conditions earlier, meaning people can be treated more quickly.

“As we celebrate the NHS’s 75th birthday and look ahead to the future, I’m focused on adopting the latest cutting-edge technology across our health and care system to ensure we can continue to deliver the best care for our patients and cut waiting times, which is one of the government’s five priorities.”

The AI Diagnostic Fund will include the use of AI tools to analyse chest X-Rays – the most common tool used to diagnose lung cancer – which is the leading cause of cancer death in the UK.

With more than 600,000 chest X-rays performed each month in England, the deployment of diagnostic AI tools to more NHS Trusts will support clinicians to diagnose cancer patients earlier, improving patient outcomes.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said:

“The NHS is already harnessing the benefits of AI across the country in helping to catch and treat major diseases earlier, as well as better managing waiting lists so patients can be seen quicker.

“As we approach our milestone 75th birthday, this is another example of how NHS is continuing its proud history of adopting the latest proven technology to deliver better care for patients, and better value for taxpayers.”

The £21 million funding will be open to bids for any AI diagnostic tool that trusts want to deploy, but will have to represent value for money for the funding to be approved.

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