Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of National Health Service (NHS) England called for more funding to support the UK government’s recent backing of £250 million to set up a new National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory. In his keynote speech made yesterday (4 September) at the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2019 (NHS Expo) in Manchester, Stevens also urged for greater capital investment to secure infrastructure and diagnostic tools crucial for the public health system over the next decades.

Some fundamental changes

“The prospect for the NHS over the next five years are stronger… There are things we still need to get right and there are things we need from the government. We need strong, multi-year capital settlement to invest in infrastructure and diagnostics, building on the kinds of progress we’ve seen in AI,” Stevens said.

He added effort had been made to “fundamentally change” the way the NHS works. “The goal here is, rather than a series of segmented vertical screening programs, we actually have a more targeted offer that’s more convenient for patients. For example, a woman can get a cancer check on her lunch break rather than having to have a series of appointments at a GP (General Practitioner) surgery or breast screening service”.

Stevens also addressed Brexit; UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) believed to take place on 31 October. He said healthcare leaders should make Brexit plans as their “top operational priority” in the next two months. There had been a mounting concern over sharing of health data between the UK and EU shall the country leaves without a deal. That means the UK will not succumb to the EU data sharing policies and will need to apply for a separate adequacy agreement that could take up to 18 months for approval.

The annual NHS Expo

One of the biggest healthcare events of the year, NHS Expo is being held every September in Manchester Central for the UK policy makers, industrial professionals, social care providers, academia, and so on, to gather and realize the NHS Long Term Plan.

As of the previous years, NHS Expo 2019 also put a heavy emphasis on AI and related new technologies. Dr. Indra Joshi, the Head of Digital Health and AI, NHSX (i.e., the new digital unit of NHS) gave a talk on how AI is transforming healthcare through data-driven technology, as well as Dr. Tony Young, National Clinical Director for Innovation, NHS England and NHS Improvement (i.e., one of our AIMed Europe 2019 delegates), who lead a session entitled “From Eh? To AI – the tech transformation of the NHS’ back office” and many more.

The NHS Expo 2019 continues today (5 September) and AIMed will be bringing you some of its latest news and stories.

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Hazel Tang

A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.