The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced plans to invest further in the use of artificial intelligence across the NHS to speed up the diagnosis of deadly diseases.
A DHSC spokesman said the £50m funding boost will scale up the work of existing Digital Pathology and Imaging Artificial Intelligence Centres of Excellence.
The three centres set to receive a share of the funding, based in Coventry, Leeds and London, will deliver digital upgrades to pathology and imaging services across an additional 38 NHS trusts, benefiting 26.5 million patients across England.
Pathology and imaging services, including radiology, play a crucial role in the diagnosis of diseases and the funding will lead to faster and more accurate diagnosis and more personalised treatments for patients, freeing up clinicians’ time and ultimately saving lives.
Health and Social Care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Technology is a force for good in our fight against the deadliest diseases – it can transform and save lives through faster diagnosis, free up clinicians to spend time with their patients and make every pound in the NHS go further.
‘I am determined we do all we can to save lives by spotting cancer sooner. Bringing the benefits of artificial intelligence to the frontline of our health service with this funding is another step in that mission. We can support doctors to improve the care we provide and make Britain a world-leader in this field.
‘The NHS is open and I urge anyone who suspects they have symptoms to book an appointment with their GP as soon as possible to benefit from our excellent diagnostics and treatments.’
National Pathology Imaging Co-operative director and consultant pathologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Darren Treanor said:
‘This investment will allow us to use digital pathology to diagnose cancer at 21 NHS trusts in the north, serving a population of 6m people.
‘We will also build a national network spanning another 25 hospitals in England, allowing doctors to get expert second opinions in rare cancers, such as childhood tumours, more rapidly.
‘This funding puts the NHS in a strong position to be a global leader in the use of artificial intelligence in the diagnosis of disease.’
Professor Kiran Patel, chief medical officer at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, said:
‘We are delighted to receive and lead this funding.
‘This represents a major capital investment into the NHS which will massively expand the digitisation of cellular pathology services, driving diagnostic evaluation to new heights and increasing access to a vast amount of image information for research.
‘As a trust we’re excited to be playing such a major part in helping the UK to take a leading role in the development and delivery of these new technologies to improve patient outcomes and enhance our understanding and utilisation of clinical information.’
Professor Reza Razavi, London Medical Imaging and AI Centre for Value-Based Healthcare director said:
‘The additional funding will enable the London Medical Imaging and AI Centre for Value-Based Healthcare to continue its mission to spearhead innovations that will have significant impact on our patients and the wider NHS.
‘Artificial intelligence technology provides significant opportunities to improve diagnostics and therapies as well as reduce administrative costs.
‘With machine learning, we can use existing data to help clinicians better predict when disease will occur, diagnosing and treating it earlier, and personalising treatments, which will be less resource intensive and provides better health outcomes for our patients.’
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