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Health secretary announces £30m tech fund and new medical school places

Health secretary announces £30m tech fund and new medical school places

Health secretary Steve Barclay has announced a £30m fund to speed up adoption of new health technology in the NHS.

Addressing the Conservative Party Conference today, he also announced ‘three new medical schools’.

However, the Labour Party and the BMA both pointed out all three schools already exist and two of them already train medical students.

The new tech fund will be open to applications from ICSs for projects that meet an ‘unmet need’ and brings ‘tangible benefits’ for patients or ‘improves productivity or staff experience’, the Government said.

The funding will be made available this calendar year, with projects expected to complete before the end of the financial year.

In his speech, the health secretary suggested projects could focus on artificial intelligence or cancer diagnosis.

He said: ‘Cutting-edge technology like AI has the potential to transform our healthcare but we need to roll out these innovations faster so that patients receive the benefits as quickly as possible.

‘That is why today I am announcing the creation of a new £30-million Health Technology Adoption and Acceleration Fund, enabling clinicians to adopt proven technologies that can improve patient care in their local area.

‘This fund, resulting from a long-term decision by the Government to build a brighter future for the NHS, will provide new tools to help detect cancer sooner, enable people to receive treatment in the own homes and increase productivity.’

On medical schools, the health secretary announced that the new schools will be at the University of Worcester, the University of Chester and Brunel University in Uxbridge.

According to the Government, this will provide a further 205 undergraduate places from September next year.

Mr Barclay said: ‘I’m delighted to announce today that we are making more than 200 medical school extra places available at universities for next September.

‘Most of these places will be going to three new NHS medical schools, meaning hundreds of additional doctors working on the wards in the years to come.

‘This will help ensure the NHS is set for the future and that patients get the care they need when they need it.’

But Dr Emma Runswick, BMA council deputy chair, said: ‘With more than 10,800 doctor vacancies in England’s hospitals alone, these additional 205 places a year are a drop in the ocean. The health secretary is fooling no one if he thinks this is the answer to the NHS’s medical workforce crisis – while he simultaneously refuses to talk with the doctors we already have.

‘We desperately need to attract and recruit more doctors, but most crucially we need to keep the doctors working in the NHS right now, and to do that we need to ensure they’re valued appropriately. You can’t fill a leaky bucket without plugging holes in the bottom.’