A £250m boost to artificial intelligence work could lead to earlier cancer detection, new dementia treatments and more personalised care.
The investment, made yesterday by health secretary Matt Hancock, will go towards a National Artificial Intelligence Lab.
Those behind the boost say they hope it means the NHS can become a world leader in AI and health research.
They also expect that up to five million people to be given a free personalised health report based on their DNA.
The prime minister, commenting on the announcement, said: “The NHS is revered for the world-class care it provides every day – a treasured institution that showcases the very best of Britain. But it is also leading the way in harnessing new technology to treat and prevent, from earlier cancer detection to spotting the deadly signs of dementia.”
He continued: “Today’s funding is not just about the future of care though. It will also boost the frontline by automating admin tasks and freeing up staff to care for patients. My task to ensure the NHS has the funding it needs to make a real difference to the lives of staff and patients. Transforming care through artificial intelligence is a perfect illustration of that.”
The lab will sit within NHSX, the new organisation which will oversee the digitisation of the health and care service, in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative.
It will bring together the industry’s best academics, specialists and technology companies to harness the power of AI to improve the health and lives of patients.
The investment will support the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan, which includes pledges to use AI to help clinicians eliminate variations in care.
It comes in addition to £1.8bn of reported new money for 20 hospital upgrades and infrastructure projects.
Matt Hancock added: “We are on the cusp of a huge health tech revolution that could transform patient experience by making the NHS a truly predictive, preventive and personalised health and care service.
“I am determined to bring the benefits of technology to patients and staff, so the impact of our NHS Long Term Plan and this immediate, multimillion pound cash injection are felt by all. It’s part of our mission to make the NHS the best it can be,” he concluded.