Tens of thousands of NHS staff could be trained to use artificial intelligence and robotics as the health service looks to embrace cutting-edge tech and innovation.
The plans are part of an independent review announced by Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health and social care, to ensure that NHS staff are equipped to give patients the latest treatments.
The review will be led by cardiology, genetics and digital medicine expert Dr Eric Topol, who will look at opportunities where the NHS could invest in training for existing staff.
Dr Topol will look at technologies such as AI (including robotics), genomics and digital medicine. He previously led a US research programme on using technology and data for more precise, tailored patient treatment.
“While it’s hard to predict the future, we know artificial intelligence, digital medicine and genomics will have an enormous impact for improving the efficiency and precision in healthcare,” he said.
“Our review will focus on the extraordinary opportunities to leverage these technologies for the healthcare workforce and power a sustainable and vibrant NHS.”
Dr Topol will begin with a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital to see its life-changing technology in action.
The hospital is looking at how machine-learning technology could help analyse eye scans, giving eye care professionals a better and faster understanding of eye disease.
Jeremy Hunt added: “Every week we hear about exciting new developments surfacing in the NHS which could help provide answers to some of our greatest challenges such as cancer or chronic illness.
“These give us a glimpse of what the future of the whole NHS could be, which is why in the year of the NHS’ 70th birthday I want to empower staff to offer patients modern healthcare more widely and more quickly.
“I’m delighted that Dr Topol is kicking off this review – ensuring the NHS is at the forefront of life-saving, life-changing care across the globe for decades to come.”