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‘Robot receptionists’ to be used to free up NHS time

‘Robot receptionists’ to be used to free up NHS time

‘Robot receptionists’ are expected to be part of the long-term NHS workforce plan, transforming the way patient appointments are booked to free up staff time.

The 15-year strategy, due to be published at the end of this week, is expected to set out how automated robotic processes can be used to schedule appointments, flag test results and analyse patient referrals, as well as using AI software such as ChatGPT to transcribe doctors’ notes.

A source close to health secretary Steve Barclay told the Telegraph: ‘Technology and innovation, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), are changing the nature of healthcare, and the health secretary is keen that they play a huge part in improving diagnosis and treatment, and cutting waiting lists.

‘He wants AI to help reduce workload and raise productivity, supporting staff and freeing up their time to focus on caring for patients.’

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) declined to comment on the report.

The long-awaited plan will be ‘one of the most significant announcements in the history of the NHS’, the Prime Minister has said and is also due to include a doubling of medical school places and a greater focus on bringing in new NHS staff – including doctors – via apprenticeship routes.

It is not known what plans it will set out to retain existing NHS staff – including GPs – who are currently in dispute with Government over workload and funding.

The NHS is already trialling AI technology to assess skin lesions for the presence of cancer and the Government has previously said that AI in GP practices will help manage patients in the elective care backlog, with studies finding that AI has the potential to relieve pressures on the NHS and its workforce and may produce more empathetic responses than doctors to questions from patients.

However, clear ethical standards and guidance are needed for the use of AI in healthcare settings or there is a risk of damaging trust between doctors and their patients, a report from the Council of Europe has warned, and all health and care staff – especially GPs – should be trained in AI, according to Health Education England (HEE) and the NHS AI Lab.


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

Turn out The Lights 27 June, 2023 12:14 pm

Do they never learn!

David Church 27 June, 2023 12:52 pm

How will they get up the stairs?
Or are they based on those fake flying daleks now?

ANTHONY Roberts 27 June, 2023 1:40 pm

Patients may have to get used to the computer saying no.
Hopefully the AI robots will not take offense at being sworn at or threatened.

James Cuthbertson 27 June, 2023 2:10 pm

Please produce evidence you have an appointment- you have 20 seconds to comply……

KarthikeyanMohanram Mehnatamah 27 June, 2023 5:50 pm

I think we should have AI health secretary and AI PM to get NHs out of the mess by making better realistic plans. Human brain thinking is not sufficient.

Anonymous 28 June, 2023 10:22 am

You are number 256 in this queue.
All our noctors are busy at this time, if your call is urgent you can stay on the line, but realistically you might not get seen.
All our calls are important to us.
In a few words, describe the reason for your call today.
Sorry, I could not understand what urgent prescription means.
For test results, log in to your online account.
All appointments for today have been taken, you may hang up the phone now.

fareed bhatti 28 June, 2023 10:30 am

Obviously a good plan, it has the words AI, Robots, access, NHS, freeing up, improvement, quick, safe etc all in there. Screwing over the public and Gen practice is implied naturally though. What could possibly go wrong…

David Turner 28 June, 2023 12:52 pm

This is beyond ludicrous!!

Is it possible for the government to be more out of touch or clueless?

Keith Greenish 29 June, 2023 2:27 pm

Last 3 words of para 3 should read “and cutting funding” – that is what they really want