Hancock endorses report on automation in health care

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has launched a new report on introducing more automation in the NHS, arguing that it will improve productivity and save money.

The TaxPayers' Alliance report considers how existing and developing technology can enable the health and social care system to increase productivity, reduce costs, and result in better health and social care.

Embracing technology in health and social care says that it is essential that the challenge of an ageing population of addressed, with increased automation key to meeting social care demands. It also claims that increased automation can also help to address staff shortages, as it frees healthcare professionals from more repetitive tasks and allows them to focus on patient care.

According to the research, the potential value of time released for NHS staff through improved productivity from increased automation is estimated to be £12.5 billion a year, saying that there is a combined potential annual saving of up to £18.5 billion by 2030 when the £5.9 billion predicted for the social care sector is also taken into account.

The ways these annual savings could be achieved by embracing automation include: £1.1 billion in pathology costs; £75 million on medication for insomnia, depression, and anxiety; improved cardiovascular diagnosis delivering savings of £300 million; improvements in end of life care that could yield savings of more than £556 million; and the greater use of automated systems to help patients recover better after operations, thereby saving the NHS £100 million.

Hancock said: “I love our NHS because it’s always been there for me and my family, through some of the best moments in life and some of the worst. So my number one priority is making sure it continues to always be there for every family.

"I care about technology because I care about people. To save and improve lives, technology has huge potential so long as it is properly harnessed by our health and care system. Just as importantly, it has the potential to improve the working lives of health and care staff, freeing them up to do more of what they love and do so well: treating and caring for patients.

"Automation and innovation are changing the way we live our lives, and can transform the way we deliver public services for decades to come. It is mission critical for all of us who love and cherish our NHS that we seize the opportunities of the future and ensure that modern technology benefits staff, benefits patients and benefits our country as a whole."

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "British taxpayers people pay for, and deserve, world-leading public services. The government has committed to making the NHS a major spending priority, but everybody knows that its going to take more than just money to improve health services in this country.

"The biggest priority should always be striving towards better outcomes for patients, which means freeing up NHS staff from monotonous tasks and giving them more time to spend on real care. Exciting developments in technology could deliver savings for taxpayers - but also, crucially, save more lives."

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