Theresa May vows to unleash NHS tech revolution in drive to cut cancer deaths

Posted On: 
21st May 2018

Theresa May will today challenge the NHS to step up its use of "smart technology"  to prevent more than 20,000 cancer-related deaths every year.

The Prime Minister will set out plans to "incubate a whole new industry" of AI-enabled healthcare
Credit: 
PA

In the first of a string of announcements ahead of the health service's 70th birthday, the Prime Minister will vow to ramp up the use of artificial intelligence to spot the signs of major illnesses before they take root.

Mrs May will throw down the gauntlet to the NHS, tech providers and the charity sector to work more closely together and transform the diagnosis of chronic diseases by better cross-referencing medical and lifestyle data.

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Speaking in Macclesfield, the Prime Minister will also talk up the plan's prospect of boosting the UK's life sciences industry post-Brexit.

“Late diagnosis of otherwise treatable illnesses is one of the biggest causes of avoidable deaths," she will say.

“And the development of smart technologies to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings opens up a whole new field of medical research and gives us a new weapon in our armoury in the fight against disease.

“Achieving this mission will not only save thousands of lives. It will incubate a whole new industry around AI-in-healthcare, creating high-skilled science jobs across the country, drawing on existing centres of excellence in places like Edinburgh, Oxford and Leeds – and helping to grow new ones.”

Mrs May is also set to unveil a new government target of ensuring that people have five more years of "healthy, independent and active” life by 2035.

The plans have been welcomed by leading health charities, with Cancer Research chief Sir Harpal Kumar saying: "If this platform unites government, academia, the charity sector and industry, we will be primed to accelerate innovation and lead the healthcare sector to new heights."