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Government to roll out AI tools for lung cancer

The government is rolling out an artificial intelligence (AI) programme that could help speed up diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

The government is allocating £21 million to 64 NHS trusts to help them deploy artificial intelligence (AI) tools that analyse X-rays and CT scans for lung cancer patients.

It is hoped this will support clinicians in their work with quicker, more accurate diagnosis of conditions, as well as helping to ease pressures on the NHS and free up staff time.

The Health and Social Care Secretary hosted a roundtable with NHS trusts, industry leaders and health officials this week to identify ways of speeding up the roll out of AI in health and social care.

Discussions focused on the safe deployment of AI to help cut waiting lists and relieve pressure on hospitals, free up staff time by automating admin tasks, and support people in care settings to live more independently.

More accurate diagnosis of lung cancer

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:   “We are rolling out more cutting-edge AI technology across the NHS to help with quicker, more accurate diagnosis of lung cancer because patients deserve the best care possible.

“AI is already being used in the NHS to halve treatment times for stroke patients and to assist doctors in analysing brain scans, reducing the time between admission and treatment by more than one hour – saving valuable staff time and improving patient recovery. We’re building on this success to make sure lung cancer patients get the support they need, when they need it.”

The government has already invested £123 million into 86 AI technologies, which is helping patients by supporting stroke diagnosis, screening, cardiovascular monitoring and managing conditions at home.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is also entering into a new partnership with government, regulators and industry which will see advanced AI technology used in NHS settings ahead of regulatory approval – allowing NHS patients to benefit earlier from emerging technology before it is available anywhere else in the world.

This system, known as AI-Airlock, will open for products in April 2024 and will allow innovators to test the technology in NHS settings, helping to generate data quickly on its effectiveness. The government says this will prioritise patient safety while encouraging innovation at pace within the industry – meaning there is no delay in patients benefiting from potentially lifesaving technology between regulatory approval and deployment.

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