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Matt Hancock unveils £250m fund for NHS AI

The health secretary Matt Hancock has unveiled plans to launch a National Artificial Intelligence Lab for the NHS as part of a £250m investment in the burgeoning technology.

The lab will be based within NHS X, a new wing of the health service, and manage “the digitisation of the health and care service”, bringing together academics, specialists and technology companies, according to the government.

In a statement, the prime minister Boris Johnson said: “Today’s funding is not just about the future of care though. It will also boost the frontline by automating admin tasks and freeing up staff to care for patients.

“My task to ensure the NHS has the funding it needs to make a real difference to the lives of staff and patients. Transforming care through artificial intelligence is a perfect illustration of that.”

The government said the lab could deliver a number of benefits for the health service, including improving cancer screening, using predictive models to estimate the need for beds, drugs and other resources, and identifying which patients are most at risk of diseases such as dementia to allow for earlier diagnosis.

Hancock, who has put technology at the centre of his brief for the NHS, added: “We are on the cusp of a huge health tech revolution that could transform patient experience by making the NHS a truly predictive, preventive and personalised health and care service.

“I am determined to bring the benefits of technology to patients and staff, so the impact of our NHS Long Term Plan and this immediate, multimillion pound cash injection are felt by all. It’s part of our mission to make the NHS the best it can be.”