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A new £215m funding package has been earmarked for healthcare research, the health and social care secretary has announced.
Jeremy Hunt today revealed a £215m investment in research into a range of conditions, including life-long illnesses, mental health problems and obesity.
His announcement comes after cardiology, genetics and digital medicine researcher Dr Eric Topol published an interim review last week into the use of new technologies in the health service, including how NHS staff can be trained to use artificial intelligence and robotics.
Mr Hunt said it is ‘vital we harness technology to develop the next generation of innovative treatments as part of the Government’s long-term plan for the NHS’.
He continued: ‘That’s why I want our world-leading academics, researchers and technology experts to work with frontline staff to develop the innovations which not only allow people to live longer, but also to lead healthier lives, so the NHS can continue to provide world-class care to all.’
Of the £215m package, £150m will support research over the next five years to ‘tackle key emerging issues such as the pressures of an ageing population and the increasing demands on the NHS’.
The remaining £65m will go towards 13 units at the National Institute for Health Research – a Government-funded clinical research facility – that will cover areas including behavioural science, adult social care, older people and frailty, cancer awareness, screening and early diagnosis.
The units will ensure the Government and arms-length bodies have the ‘best possible information and evidence available when making policy decisions about health and social care’, NHS England said.
Workforce ‘key’ to success
The Topol review said that ‘the education and training of the existing workforce, along with the preparation of an appropriate pipeline of talented future staff, will be key to the success of any programme of change designed to empower staff to take advantage of the advances in technology to improve service delivery’.
It continued: ‘While it is hard to predict the future, we know that genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics will have an enormous impact on patients and the workforce over the next two decades.
‘In a fast changing healthcare environment with a growing and ageing population, the task of ensuring that the workforce has the skills, knowledge and time to care is essential to future proofing the NHS and its ability to meet patients’ needs.’