Crawley MP Henry Smith welcomes Government plans to roll out artificial intelligence tools across the NHS

Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017
Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017
Henry Smith MP has welcomed the news that NHS staff will be given the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology to diagnose and treat patients more quickly thanks to a new £21 million fund announced by the Health & Social Care Secretary.

Henry said: “We know that AI has incredible potential to help patients and the NHS more widely.

“Access to new technologies crucially means earlier diagnosis – and more effective treatments and faster recovery. This all helps to deliver better care for patients and cut waiting times – one of the Government’s five priorities.

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“In the previous parliament I chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Heart & Circulatory Diseases and also secured and led a debate in Westminster Hall on the involvement of patients in the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

“I’ve been clear that we need transparency to ensure that patients are kept fully abreast of the developments of AI in the NHS.

“Let’s build on the successes AI has already brought to the health service and make sure patients are at the heart of the conversation.”

The Government has already invested £123 million into 86 AI technologies, which is helping patients by supporting stroke diagnosis, screening, cardiovascular monitoring and managing conditions at home.

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The use of AI in the NHS is already having a positive impact on outcomes for patients, with AI in some cases halving the time for stroke victims to get the treatment they need by helping doctors diagnose stroke faster, which has been shown to triple the chance of patients of living independently after a stroke.

The £21 million boost will be open for bids for any AI diagnostic support tool that trusts want to use but will have to show value for money for the funding to be approved.

NHS trusts will be able to apply to the AI Diagnostic Fund to receive AI imaging and decision support tools to help diagnose patients more quickly for conditions such as cancers, strokes and heart conditions.

The Government also recently announced a new AI & Digital Regulations Service to help NHS staff to find the right information and guidance when it comes to distributing AI devices safely. This has made it easier to understand regulations governing AI in the NHS and is saving time bringing products to market.

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For medical technology alone, the NHS spends £10 billion a year and the global market is forecast to reach £150 billion next year. Access to new technologies means patients benefit enormously, with breakthroughs enabling prevention of ill-health, earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, and faster recovery.

The Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Steve Barclay, commented: “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 priorities.”

The National Medical Director of NHS England, Professor Stephen Powis, added: “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.”

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The National Clinical Director for Stroke Medicine of NHS England, Dr Deb Lowe, said: “The use of AI decision support software in the initial stages of stroke care means patients get interventions quicker, reducing the likelihood of disability and saving brains.

“We are already seeing the impact of AI decision support software on stroke care, where rapid assessment and treatment are of the essence, and we now have real world evidence of the benefit to NHS patients.”

The Secretary of State for Science, Innovation & Technology (maternity cover), Chloe Smith, commented: “Improving diagnosis and speeding up treatments for patients through AI is a game-changer.

“The application of AI across the NHS is supported by our balanced regulatory approach and has the potential to be truly transformative, both for patients and our unrivalled health and social care workforce both now and in the decades to come.

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“Nothing could be a more fitting celebration of its 75th anniversary than a demonstration of how the NHS remains at the cutting-edge of modern-day technology and innovation.”

The President of the Royal College of Radiologists, Dr Katharine Halliday, added: “At a time when diagnostic services are under strain, it is critical that we embrace innovation that could boost capacity – and so we welcome the Government’s announcement of a £21 million fund to purchase and deploy AI diagnostic tools.

“All doctors want to give patients the best possible care. This starts with a timely diagnosis, and crucially, catching disease at the earliest point. There is huge promise in AI, which could save clinicians time by maximising our efficiency, supporting our decision-making and helping identify and prioritise the most urgent cases. Together with a highly-trained and expert radiologist workforce, AI will undoubtedly play a significant part in the future of diagnostics.”