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NHS Competition To Fast-Track Game-Changing Artificial Intelligence To NHS Staff And Patients

Artificial intelligence is already in use across the NHS, successfully predicting cancer survival rates and cutting the number of missed appointments. In the East Midlands for example, artificial intelligence is improving the speed and dissemination of x-rays and scans for five million people, helping predict breast cancer sooner. Across the wider country AI is used to predict demand for blood across hospitals, ensuring stocks are managed for patients.

The AI Award will ensure these advances are deployed more widely across the health service and ensure world-leading technology is available at scale to all staff and patients.

In a speech at the Parliament and HealthTech Conference today, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock outlined the role of technology in the NHS:

“This whole agenda is not about technology, it’s about people. The best kind of tech is the technology you barely notice because it just works.

“It’s the tech that gets you away from the screen and lets you make eye contact with the patient in front of you.

“It’s the kind of tech that helps humanise a difficult and demanding environment, by freeing you up to do more of the work you love.

“Giving clinicians back the gift of time and allowing them to care.

“That’s what we’re aiming for, it’s what clinicians are crying out for, it’s what patients expect and it’s what will bring our NHS into the 21st century.”

The Health Secretary encourages companies to bid for a share of £140 million to launch their innovation across the health service, with funding awarded based on their potential to save lives and free up staff time and help deliver.

Run by the Accelerated Access Collaborative in partnership with NHSX, the award will form part of the £250 million AI Lab announced by the Prime Minister last year.

It will support the NHS to adopt and test technologies which already have regulatory approval, as well as developing new technologies that support the priorities set out in the Long Term Plan.

If products are successful, they will be rolled out across the NHS and social care, with a particular focus on better integration across the health and care systems.

Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said:

“Throughout our history the NHS has led the way in designing, developing and introducing cutting-edge technology, and as we futureproof the health service for the 21st century and beyond, artificial intelligence has the potential to transform how we deliver patients’ care.

“From helping to personalise NHS screening and treatments for cancer, eye disease and a range of other conditions, the possibilities that AI could help with are vast and the NHS is already ramping up the use of world-leading technology as part of our Long Term Plan.”

The first call for applications will launch today, Tuesday 28 January, and remain open for five weeks.

Any innovator working with the AI lab will need to comply with the laws and regulations that protect health and care data as well as the NHS’s Code of Conduct for data-driven technologies. This will ensure that AI is developed in a safe, ethical, evidenced and transparent way that puts patient privacy first.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“AI is changing all our lives by tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, including finding cures for life-threatening diseases and speeding up new treatments for illnesses like dementia. This new investment will expand the frontiers of AI and position the NHS as a world-leader in the technologies of the future.”