Further uses of AI in the NHS are ‘on the horizon’, says chief

Amanda Pritchard said the NHS is in a ‘prime position’ to make AI-driven technology available quickly.

Further applications for artificial intelligence (AI) in the NHS are “on the horizon” in a bid to free up doctors’ time and provide better support to patients.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said patients are already benefiting from advancements in technology.

“In stroke care, AI is already in use in more than four out of five stroke networks, helping clinicians to reduce the time to deliver effective treatment by an hour, tripling the number of stroke patients recovering with no or only slight disability from one in six, to just under half.

“And in cancer, we are rolling out AI teledermatology capability which can predict with 99.7% accuracy whether a skin lesion is likely to be cancerous or not, speeding up diagnosis and treatment for patients.

Ms Pritchard added that “far more applications are on the horizon” for AI in the NHS.

“Applications that have the potential to free up clinicians’ time, give them faster access to test results and provide new forms of support for many patients,” she added.

“As a national health service, we are in prime position to be able to make this technology available quickly. And our national commercial powers make us well placed to get the best deal for taxpayers.”

Ms Pritchard’s comments come amid debate on how to regulate advancements in AI technology.

On a visit to the US earlier in June, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he wanted to avoid “scaremongering” around AI, but acknowledged it could pose the same risks as nuclear war and pandemics if not regulated properly.

His comments came after his adviser Matt Clifford said AI could result in advances in technology that subsequently “kill many humans”.

He later tweeted that headlines based on the TalkTV interview do not reflect his views.

Minster for tech and digital economy Paul Scully urged for the focus of the conversation around AI to shift from a “Terminator-style scenario”, to the technology’s potential usefulness, especially when it comes to healthcare.

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