AI in the NHS

Science, Innovation and Technology – in the House of Commons at on 17 April 2024.

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Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup Conservative, Erewash

What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on increasing the use of AI in the NHS.

Photo of Saqib Bhatti Saqib Bhatti Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology closely engages with all Departments on the adoption of AI, including the Department of Health and Social Care, and we are committed to ensuring that the adoption of AI is done in an ethical, safe and responsible way. That includes using AI to improve public service outcomes and productivity in the NHS. Ahead of the AI Safety Summit last year, we announced a new AI in healthcare fund, backed by £100 million, to target areas where the rapid deployment of AI could create transformational breakthroughs.

Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup Conservative, Erewash

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Without doubt, AI offers an opportunity to innovate regarding medical diagnostics. What discussions is he having with colleagues from the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that the next generation of clinical scientists, including radiologists and pathologists, gain the right skills to make full use of AI?

Photo of Saqib Bhatti Saqib Bhatti Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

I thank my hon. Friend for that important question. Ensuring that the UK’s life sciences sector can grow and access the variety of skills it needs to support innovation, including the adoption of AI, is a key commitment of the life sciences vision. To deliver that we are working cross-Government, including with the Department for Education and DHSC, industry and academia, to ensure that our ecosystem can deliver and attract interdisciplinary talent. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and her Department are also working to ensure that the NHS can take advantage of the opportunity that AI represents for healthcare. In addition, DSIT is actively represented on NHS England’s radiology and pathology boards, where AI and skills are regularly discussed.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

The Health and Social Care Committee’s report into the digital technologies of the future clearly demonstrated the opportunities that sit before us if we get the basics right. AI is not only of use for increasing productivity in diagnostics, but also when setting treatment plans and in pharmacology. How is the Minister setting out a strategic plan for how AI can be invested in the NHS for the future, as Labour has done with our “Fit for the Future” plan?

Photo of Saqib Bhatti Saqib Bhatti Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The hon. Lady is right to say that AI can play a great role in improving the way we treat conditions, provided that it is implemented in an ethical, safe and responsible way. One great example of that is Brainomix, which is already being used in 37 NHS healthcare trusts. It means that the in/out time has been greatly reduced, and three times more people who previously would have not been able to live independently are now able to do so because of the use of AI. That is also being used in additional critical pathways, and lessons are learned. I know the NHS is working closely with DHSC to ensure that AI is used effectively.