A fund of £250m to boost the role of artificial intelligence in the NHS in England has been promised in the latest announcement of new funding for the health service.
The UK government has said it aims to make the NHS a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI). AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, and it could see robots or other computers performing tasks and research into diseases, usually done by humans.
AI could also be used widely in clinical trials, allowing for the quicker spotting of cancers and eye conditions from scans.
Speaking to BBC News, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said;
“The power of artificial intelligence to improve medicine, to save lives, to improve the way treatments are done, that power is enormous”
“In this country, we’ve got the opportunity to be one of the leading countries in the world at using this new technology.”
The use of AI in the health service is likely to face challenges though, especially over data privacy concerns. In 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that the NHS didn’t comply with data protection legislation when sharing details with Google-owned AI company, DeepMind.
This isn’t the first funding boost announced for the health service since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister just over two weeks ago. The PM has also announced this week £1.8bn of funding for 20 hospital upgrades. This week, there has also been the promise from the government to use advanced technology to identify patients at risk of dementia.
Announcing the funding boost, Mr Johnson said;
“The NHS is revered for the world-class care it provides every day – a treasured institution that showcases the very best of Britain.”
“But it is also leading the way in harnessing new technology to treat and prevent, from earlier cancer detection to spotting the deadly signs of dementia.
“Today’s funding is not just about the future of care though. It will also boost the front line by automating admin tasks and freeing up staff to care for patients.
“My task to ensure the NHS has the funding it needs to make a real difference to the lives of staff and patients. Transforming care through artificial intelligence is a perfect illustration of that.”