UK health secretary announces €243m funding for tech research
Jeremy Hunt, the UK government’s Health Secretary, has announced a £215m (€243m) investment towards what has been termed the ‘next generation of innovative treatments’ in the NHS.
Commenting that the UK’s health services should follow those of Japan, embracing technology to produce “world-beating” outcomes, by keeping people healthier for longer, Hunt wants leading academics and technology innovators to come up with new ideas to improve surgery, treatment and long-term care.
He says they will be able to apply for research funding to develop health solutions for the future that give patients greater independence and choice about how they manage their healthcare.
“As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, more people than ever before are living longer lives thanks to the dedication of hardworking staff. It is therefore vital that we harness technology to develop the next generation of innovative treatments as part of the Government’s long-term plan for the NHS,” says Hunt.
“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.”
Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy added: “With a growing and ageing population, maintaining a world-class NHS depends on harnessing the discoveries of cutting-edge research and rapidly bringing them into everyday healthcare.
“The UK has a proud tradition of ground-breaking medical R&D and this funding means our country can continue to lead the world.”
The announcement comes after the interim findings of a new report by former health minister, Lord Darzi, released by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) earlier this month, which urged the UK government to embrace a strategy aimed at delivering “full automation” for repetitive and administrative tasks in health and care. It claimed that “a further £6bn” (€6.8bn) productivity gain could be generated with greater automation within health and social care, where 30% of tasks could be carried out by adopting new technology. The full report is due for publication imminently.
It also comes in a context where, as chairman of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, has expressed, “nearly every surgery in England is short of a doctor,” calling it a “crisis” for the health service. Many doctors were so overwhelmed, she said, that they felt they were “not providing a safe enough service”.