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Independents' Day

Health secretary launches £140m competition for NHS artificial intelligence projects

The health secretary has launched a competition for companies to receive a share of £140 million to 'fast-track’ artificial intelligence (AI) to NHS staff and patients.

The new investment scheme, known as the AI Award, will see companies selected on the basis of their potential to ‘transform patient care, support staff and save lives,' according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

It forms part of the £250 million funding commitment announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last August, aimed at boosting AI in the health service. 

The new competition is aimed at companies that will allow the NHS to 'adopt and test technologies' that already have regulatory approval, as well as those projects that are developed in line with the NHS long-term plan.

Launching the competition, health secretary Matt Hancock described the ‘whole agenda’ as being ‘about people’ rather than technology.

He said: '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.'

He added: '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 role of AI within the UK’s healthcare system has gained prominence in recent years, largely driven by the Government’s ambitions to make the NHS a global leader in the field. 

Currently, it contributes towards predicting cancer survival rates, reducing the number of missed appointments, and gauging demand for blood in hospitals. 

Simon Stevens, NHS England's chief executive, said: '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 entries to the competition opens today, and will remain open for five weeks. 


Readers' comments (8)

  • How about £140m for addressing the workforce crisis in general practice? This guy has got to move on from his tech obsession. Simple medical care provided by a well resourced and supported GP- with moderated demand (through fees). It’s not complicated Mr Hancock.

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  • I think I have it: Mr Hancock is actually an avid Star Strek fan and has confused 'Bones' tricorder scanning device with reality ...

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  • This boy is a one trick pony, I will pledge a tenner for any good soul who will stick Matty boy’s iphone (hopefully a big one) up his arse.

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  • This sounds like a politically motivated backhander for our health secs favourite medical digital business. Guess which established primary care disruptor (guess... begins with a B and rhymes with London) has been mass recruiting and working on AI and will likely get a chunk of this "competition" funding?

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  • Maverick

    One hundred and forty million pounds is loose change down the back of your sofa compared to the ONE HUNDRED AND SIX THOUSAND MILLION pounds it'll cost to cut a half hour or so off your rail journey from Manchester to London on HS2. If HMG spent ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND MILLION POUNDS on the ambulance service, would that be a better investment I wonder? I'd rather wait for a train for a few exta minutes if it meant I'd get to my local specialist stroke centre within the golden hour when my faculties collapse...
    And where's the benefit when the HS2 service is delayed by 40 minutes because of leaves on the line or the wrong type of snow....
    Look after your business chums at your peril....
    42,000 GPs working in the UK (ball park). ONE HUNDRED AND SIX THOUSAND MILLION POUNDS equates to TWO AND A HALF MILLION POUNDS to spend on health care for EACH PRACTICING GP....
    Sometimes I despair, but mostly I'm secure within my state of compassion fatigue. I pulled the ladder up a while back. I suggest you do the same if you can... GTFO.

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  • Maverick

    Oh, and as far as world leading cutting edge technology is concerned, the UK is about as advanced as a wheelbarrow without a wheel. D'you suppose milords Stevens and Hancock read, believe or even care about the trash they excrete or the people they are resposible for. I suspect not. Even the eunoch Halotus would refuse to touch this putrescence.

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  • @ This was d | GP Partner/Principal29 Jan 2020 8:23pm

    That’s a delightful idea.
    Always presumed that Matt would have some knowledge of anatomy, considering his surname. But it’s not so. He’ll probably try to insert said device into his elbow.

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  • I would like my internet connection to work and not crash all the time - could we fix that first please? no internet - no AI. get the basics right first then the niceties. First rule of anything

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