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Artificial intelligence will help solve NHS workforce crisis, say Labour

Artificial intelligence will help solve NHS workforce crisis, say Labour

Labour has promised to make better use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies in order to bring the NHS ‘into the digital age’ and help relieve the workforce crisis.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting highlighted in particular AI that can be used to ‘diagnose cancers as accurately as the human eye’ which could free up time for clinicians.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation Expo on Wednesday, Mr Streeting will say the party ‘will arm the NHS with the best available technology to fight disease’ and will ‘cut unnecessary red tape’ around evaluation of new technology. 

He also said Labour plans to enable the NHS to bulk buy the latest technology, as the current system whereby companies must sell to each individual trust has created a ‘postcode lottery’.

Only half of NHS patients have access to at-home kidney tests which aim to ‘reduce unnecessary trips to the GP’ by using an app to detect chronic kidney disease, according to Mr Streeting.

In his speech this afternoon, Mr Streeting will say: ‘Artificial intelligence that is already available can free up staff, provide better and faster care for patients, and get more bang for taxpayers’ buck. There’s no time to wait.

‘Labour will arm the NHS with the best available technology to fight disease. We will cut unnecessary red tape and drive change to finally bring our health service into the digital age and make it fit for the future.’

In addition to AI that can accurately diagnose cancer, Labour also pointed to tools that can help with performing radiation therapy and spot signs of cancer from mammograms.

Responding to these plans, chief executive of the NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor said that while a focus on procuring new technology and joining up data is welcome, many NHS leaders tell of challenges with adopting new tools ‘quickly and at scale’. 

Mr Taylor called for more funding as well as sufficient staff numbers and training to ensure new technologies can be rolled out successfully. 

He added: ‘Addressing the NHS workforce crisis is critical to ensure there are enough staff trained in using the latest technology and it is essential patients are empowered to use technology so that we deliver greater digitisation with equity in mind. A failure to do so will further entrench health inequalities.’

As part of plans to embrace AI to cut NHS waiting lists and free up clinicians’ time, Labour has also revealed new figures showing that 79,000 pagers are still being used across the NHS.

Despite former health secretary Matt Hancock’s plans to phase out pagers by the end of 2021, 80% of NHS trusts still use them, according to data obtained by Labour via freedom of information requests. 

In October, a report by Health Education England (HEE) recommended that all health and care staff – especially GPs – should be trained in AI based on the ‘possibility of further spread of AI’ within the health sector.

Last month, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer launched his NHS ‘mission’, pledging that within five years of a Labour government, people will get seen by a GP when they need, as well as promising faster ambulance responses and shorter A&E waiting times.

Labour’s technology plans for the NHS

  • Allowing the NHS to bulk buy the latest technology, so innovators aren’t forced to sell into each 227 NHS trusts and products can be purchased for cheaper rates 
  • Cutting unnecessary red tape that requires new technology to be re-evaluated by several different bodies
  • Joining up data records so it is easier and faster to recruit patients to trials for new medicines and technologies

Source: Labour Party



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Turn out The Lights 14 June, 2023 9:01 am

More of the same Handcock BS from the reds.FFS save us from these imbeciles.

Douglas Callow 14 June, 2023 9:36 am

don’t disagree about the election ‘ boasty pledges ‘

General AI and the predicted evolution of diagnostic tech does have the potential to change all our working lives

Mark Howson 14 June, 2023 11:06 am

Technology more often than not leads to more opportunities and hence more work being done by humans at a faster rate.

Rogue 1 14 June, 2023 11:14 am

Why not get some AI in Parliament and get rid of a few politicians?

Michael Mullineux 14 June, 2023 11:39 am

With you Rogue 1, and whilst on it the same for most of the NHSE hierarchy

Gerald Clancy 14 June, 2023 12:23 pm

AI – exactly Rogue 1. Think of the opportunity to develop evidence-based healthcare policy (and bypassing ministers) by collating the myriad reports commissioned from knowledgable experts and then ignored by governments and crystallising into working models via further AI integration with procurement, energy and social services.

Simon Ruffle 14 June, 2023 12:24 pm

“A properly remunerated happy workforce with solve NHS workforce crisis” says amateur politician who’s worked in the NHS for 31 years.

Every initiative just opens another tap to the ‘overwhelmed bucket’ of patient needs and political wants.

Darren Tymens 14 June, 2023 12:38 pm

Artificial intelligence won’t.

Some Actual intelligence might – but there’s very little of that on show.

Jonathan Heatley 14 June, 2023 12:52 pm

Imagine if they could sit an AI program onto our computer systems. It would be able to pick up every trend in results or symptoms for an individual patient and remind us of all the bits we have missed. A blessing and possibly a curse; but definitely a radical change from our current practice.
I retire in 2d time after 40 years so rather relieved, but I will follow developments closely…

Jamie Preston 14 June, 2023 1:38 pm

I imagine humans will still be needed as the ultimate decision-makers and to shoulder the risk of decisions made by AI as I doubt any of the companies designing the systems will be keen to take this on.

Truth Finder 14 June, 2023 2:03 pm

I can only laugh at the foolishness. Not only will it not work, have they forgotten how the AI “killed” it’s operator? No intelligent being will listen to another less intelligent one. A fool’s errand this is.

Dermot Ryan 14 June, 2023 2:10 pm

Has he learnt nothing from matt Hancock.
AI is the expensive approach to rubbish medicine: certainly there will be some applications, but so far it doesn’t work too well with NHS111 for example.
AI cannot recognise all the non -verbal cues which are essential to diagnosis and management.

Thomas Kelly 14 June, 2023 2:18 pm

It will have a role hopefully to lighten the administrative burden on our working day but I agree cannot replace a human GP. As with everything will boil down to the expense of procuring and integrating into current systems and then the ongoing technical support needed for inevitable glitches and crashes. A concern is the system being hacked which could lead to real patient harm.

Barry Sullman 14 June, 2023 2:30 pm

Our leaders do not seem to have a clue what to do. Its really simple. Invest in the medical workforce. They seem to want to spend money on all sorts of nonsense – but not on doctors. What has happened to our leaders? cant they see the blindingly obvious? We need to pay doctors and give them a reasonable work life balance. But they are not listening. They can splash money on all sorts of rubbish but they cannot pay doctors or make our working conditions better.
God help the country.

Stuart Vas 14 June, 2023 3:42 pm

Chat gpt suggests the following, easy…:

The shortage of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other staff, is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach to address. Here are some potential strategies that can help remedy the staffing shortage in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS):

1. Increasing Education and Training Opportunities: Invest in expanding medical and nursing schools, as well as other healthcare training programs, to increase the number of qualified professionals entering the workforce. This could involve providing more funding for scholarships, grants, and financial incentives to attract individuals to healthcare careers.

2. Retaining Existing Staff: Develop initiatives to improve job satisfaction, work-life balance, and career progression opportunities for healthcare professionals already working in the NHS. By creating a supportive and fulfilling work environment, the NHS can reduce staff turnover and retain experienced professionals.

3. International Recruitment: Engage in targeted international recruitment efforts to attract qualified healthcare professionals from abroad. This could involve streamlining the visa process, providing support for relocation, and recognizing international qualifications to expedite the integration of foreign-trained professionals into the NHS.

4. Addressing Burnout and Workload: Take measures to address excessive workloads and burnout among healthcare staff. This may involve hiring additional support staff, implementing workload management systems, and providing mental health support services for healthcare workers.

5. Utilizing Technology and Innovation: Embrace technological advancements to enhance efficiency and productivity in healthcare delivery. Automation, telemedicine, and electronic health records can streamline processes, allowing healthcare professionals to focus on patient care. This can alleviate some of the strain on existing staff.

6. Collaboration with Universities and Research Institutions: Foster partnerships between the NHS and academic institutions to promote research, innovation, and the development of new healthcare technologies. This collaboration can attract more students to healthcare professions and enhance the overall quality of care provided.

7. Enhancing Public Perception and Awareness: Raise public awareness about the importance of healthcare professions and encourage more individuals to consider careers in healthcare. Promote the positive aspects of working in the NHS and highlight the diverse range of roles available.

It’s important to note that there is no single solution to address the staffing shortage, and a combination of these strategies, tailored to the specific needs of the NHS, would be most effective. Additionally, long-term planning and sustained investment in the healthcare workforce are crucial for ensuring an adequate supply of skilled professionals in the future.

Centreground Centreground 14 June, 2023 5:33 pm

Listening to the Labour party is analogous to listening to a group of excited children when they hear about something new.

Nick Mann 14 June, 2023 6:23 pm

“‘cut unnecessary red tape’ around evaluation of new technology.”
– Think:”Babylon Chatbot” and don’t let industry lead the way. Proper peer review and evaluation are not “red tape”!

Keith M Laycock 14 June, 2023 9:03 pm

I thought the headline meant MPs were to be recruited into the NHS workforce.

Adam Crowther 15 June, 2023 7:08 am

My Apple Watch is telling me that my HR is way too high since reading this so can’t possibly comment today 🤦🏼‍♂️

Some Bloke 15 June, 2023 12:11 pm

suggestion to Labour party: there is a charismatic ex PM and not so charismatic, or loyal, ex cabinet minister on the scene and I am sure both are looking for new roles where they could apply their formidable talents. One identifies as a man, the other must be a women, but without penis- that may confuse Sir Keir. But it should not be a problem that they are, or used to be,- Conservative. No one knows what Labour stands for anyway. These two will make fantastic contribution to whatever your course might be in whatever time frame you chose to apply. Best of luck to the rest of us!

Dylan Summers 16 June, 2023 10:00 am

Machine-learning AI is already in use in GP. Its usefulness is and will remain limited.


As an example, all patient appt requests at my surgery currently pass through the electronic triage platform Klinik. Klinik scans the contents of the request and uses a machine learning algorithm to advise EG urgent appointment. It requires that the humans making the ultimate decision feed back whether they agree with the algorithm or not, and it uses this feedback to improve the algorithm.

However I often have to overrule the algorithm based on factors outside the information in the request form.

EG the patient already has an appointment
EG I happen to know the patient and their health anxiety means that appointments outside their scheduled reviews are best kept to a minimum.
EG The symptom, while alarming, turns out on looking at the notes to have persisted unchanged for 20 years.

AI only analyses the information it is given. We humans bring a wealth of contextual knowledge to our decision making beyond any specific set of data being passed through an algorithm. Machine-learning AI will only ever be a somewhat-helpful tool in GP.