Hancock said the government is aiming to give back the “gift of time” to the clinicians and “allowing them to care”

The health secretary has launched a £140 million artificial intelligence (AI) award to fast-track life-saving innovation to the NHS.

Companies are being encouraged to bid for a share of the amount to launch their AI innovation across the health service. The funding will be awarded based on a project’s potential to save lives and free up staff time and help deliver.

The award was announced today by Health Secretary Matt Hancock at a Parliament and HealthTech Conference event.

“This whole agenda is not about technology, it’s about people. The best kind of tech is the technology you barely notice because it just works, he said, adding: “It’s the kind of tech that helps humanise a difficult and demanding environment, by freeing you up to do more of the work you love.”

Hancock said that the government was aiming to give back clinicians the “gift of time  and allowing them to care.”

“It’s what clinicians are crying out for, it’s what patients expect and it’s what will bring our NHS into the 21st century,” he added.

The award will form part of the £250 million AI Lab announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year and will be run by the Accelerated Access Collaborative in partnership with NHSX.

Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “From helping to personalise NHS screening and treatments for cancer, eye disease and a range of other conditions, the possibilities that AI could help with are vast and the NHS is already ramping up the use of world-leading technology as part of our Long Term Plan”.

The first call for applications is open from today until the next five weeks.

AI is already in use across the NHS, successfully predicting cancer survival rates and cutting the number of missed appointments. In the East Midlands alone, AI scans five million people, helping to predict breast cancer sooner.

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