AI to be rolled out across NHS radiotherapy

The government has revealed that tech designed to review CT and MRI scans and help minimise potential damage to healthy cells is to be implemented at specialist departments across England

Artificial intelligence technology will be rolled out across NHS England in coming weeks in a move ministers have claimed could help cut waiting lists.

The UK government announced earlier this week that plans to invest £15.5m in introducing AI across all NHS England radiotherapy departments. The technology has been estimated to detect cancer cells 2.5 times quicker than clinicians alone.

The tech is designed to review CT and MRI scans and distinguish cancerous cells from healthy organs, with the aim of preventing the latter from being damaged during radiotherapy. Trained workforces would then review reports before administering any treatments.

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AI is already being used in 90 per cent of stroke units in England, where the government claims evidence shows it is speeding up diagnosis and treatment. Almost three in 10 of those referred with urgent suspicion of cancer are waiting longer than the 62-day target to start their treatment.

In comments made before announcing the imminent general election, prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Thanks to Bletchley we have created a legacy of international collaboration which means we are matching the pace of the technology.”

The AI safety Summit took place at Bletchley Park last November and saw countries sign a major international agreement on AI safety, known as the Bletchley Declaration.

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

A version of this story originally appeared on PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood

Sofia Villegas

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