Cancer waiting list

Government maintains AI momentum with new technology to cut cancer waiting lists

Every radiography department in England is set to benefit from “game-changing” AI that can find cancer cells two-and-a-half times faster than doctors alone.

The roll-out will begin in a matter of weeks according to the government and will be backed by £15.5m of funding.

The AI will automatically review CT and MRI scans to help doctors distinguish between cancerous cells and healthy organs.

The government describes the move as a “major step” in the fight to:

  • Cut waiting lists
  • Alleviate pressure on hospitals
  • Free up staff time
  • Support people in care settings to live more independently
Victoria Atkins comment

NHS England’s national specialty adviser for radiotherapy, Dr Imogen Locke, said: “The NHS is embracing AI and its benefits for cancer patients and every radiotherapy department will soon be able to offer the latest technology to help diagnose and treat patients more quickly.

“We are seeing a record number of referrals for suspected cancer, and game-changing tools like AI will help the NHS continue the significant progress made in tackling the longest waits for patients.”

The news comes as the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, attended the AI Seoul Summit yesterday which sought to build on the momentum gained from last year’s Bletchley Summit which was the first time ever that nations, AI firms, academia, and civil society came together to consider the risks of AI.

“Thanks to Bletchley we have created a legacy of international collaboration which means we are matching the pace of the technology,” said Rishi.

He added: “AI-powered medical advances – like in radiotherapy – are evidence of this and we must take advantage of them.

“That’s why we are pumping £15.5 million into the NHS so it can be rolled out across England – to help cut waiting lists and make the UK the number one place for AI innovation.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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