A positive step towards a digital future but technology needs to be driven by patient need

Health Foundation response to government announcement of new investment in technology and AI

8 August 2019

Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said:

'The government's commitment to invest in new technology for the NHS is a positive step towards ensuring that the health service is fit for the digital future. Technology offers great potential to improve care and drive efficiency by supporting patients to manage their own care, enabling faster diagnoses and reducing waiting times. 
 
'But technology needs to be driven by patient need and not just for technology's sake. Robust evaluation therefore needs to be at the heart of any drive towards greater use of technology in the NHS, so that technologies that are shown to be effective can be spread further, and patients protected from any potential harm. 
 
'The proposed AI lab is a welcome investment in NHS analytics, and there is scope for this to support analytics rights across the health system, including with local analytics teams if a collaborative approach is adopted. However, given the questions raised about other funding announcements this week, we will need to ensure there's clarity on where this money will come from and whether there may need to be trade-offs.

'Technology offers great promise for the future, but in the present the NHS faces real challenges that need to be addressed, including major workforce shortages and a crumbling infrastructure. Despite the extra capital funding pledged this week, there remains a £6bn maintenance backlog for supporting basic infrastructure, including IT equipment, of which over £3bn is identified as 'high or significant risk'. And with a shortfall of 100,000 staff, the NHS will struggle to sustain current services, let alone take advantage of the benefits of new technology.'

Media contact

Peter Stilwell
Peter.Stilwell@health.org.uk
07771 355840

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