Government to invest over £130 million in NHS tech
- government investing £133 million in healthcare innovation including gene-based therapies and artificial intelligence
- funding will unlock new treatments that allow people to lead healthier and longer lives
The government has unveiled details of how it will help thousands of people across the country living with debilitating, painful and/or sometimes life-threatening diseases by investing £133 million in life-changing treatments for arthritis and cancer and for pioneering gene-based therapies for diseases including dementia and Parkinson’s.
Faster, more accurate diagnosis, and earlier interventions will be boosted by £50 million to be pumped into NHS diagnostic services and support the work of existing Centres of Excellence in digital pathology and imaging with artificial intelligence. The centres – based in Leeds, Oxford, Coventry and London – will be able to partner with more NHS Trusts and further develop cutting edge products using digital systems and artificial intelligence that could ultimately save lives.
IBMS Council member David Wells said:
This investment in digital pathology is fantastic news, allowing more services to adopt this technology covering more patients than ever. Working with NHS Centres of Excellence the learning and approaches will be shared allowing for faster adoption to a high standard. Use of this technology will allow patients and clinicians to access the most appropriate clinical and technological expertise, giving greater access to modern diagnostic techniques in a shorter time, speeding up the time to diagnose many conditions including cancer. Biomedical Scientists working in histopathology laboratories will also benefit, opening up opportunities and new advanced roles in technology, AI and clinical reporting.
Adult social care will also receive a new cash injection of £7.5 million to use research to improve care delivery for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and £14 million for bioscience projects and technologies across the UK that could, for example, treat osteoarthritis and develop new vaccines.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:
Chronic and painful illnesses like arthritis and Parkinson’s are dreadful and prevent people from living a full life.
Curing these kinds of debilitating illnesses is one of the great challenges we face globally, and today’s commitment will play a vital role in ensuring that our scientists and thinkers have the tools they need to find new treatments that will support people to lead longer, healthier lives.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
We’ve got to bring NHS technology into the 21st century. I’ve seen for myself how better technology and diagnosis can save clinicians’ time so they can concentrate on care. The NHS is now spearheading world-leading technologies that can transform and save lives through new treatments, diagnosis techniques and care. I’m determined that the benefits of these advances will improve the lives of thousands of patients whose conditions have long been considered life-limiting.
Combined with this new funding, none of this would be possible without the long-term plan, backed by an extra £33.9 billion a year for the NHS.
A further £69.5 million of the total investment through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will help fund 4 British projects:
- Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator: ‘NATA’ (£30 million) – brand new therapies and technologies directly targeting genetic mutations could be rolled out to treat diseases including cancer, Huntingdon’s, Parkinson’s and arthritis
- The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (£12 million) – deepening our understanding of pain, this will reveal new treatment approaches and address a wide spectrum of chronic and debilitating conditions including arthritis. Versus Arthritis will contribute an additional £12 million over 3 years
- UK Centre of Evidence Implementation in Adult Social Care (£7.5 million) – using high quality research, this project will lead to improvements in the delivery of social care across the UK; implementing innovations with the potential to allow more people to receive care from the comfort of their own home
- Tackling Multimorbidity at scale (£20 million, of which the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is contributing £10 million) – this research into multimorbidity – when someone is suffering 2 or more long-term health conditions – will propel forward drug development, allow for earlier diagnosis and reduce progression to more severe illness and disability
The Centres of Excellence funding
The Centres of Excellence in digital pathology and imaging with AI were originally established in 2018 by UKRI. They bring together the NHS, industry, and academia who work together to develop products using advances in digital technology to improve early diagnosis of disease, including cancer, by detecting abnormalities. The programme, managed by UKRI, will allocate the £50 million via a competition run between the 4 centres. The bids must demonstrate how funding will be used by the centres to invest in digital infrastructure and equipment in partner NHS Trusts, and digitally link these trusts to the centres. This will expand the geographic coverage of the NHS trusts who are able to work with the centres.