03 Oct, 2023: The UK's NHS (National Health Services) Department of Health and Social Care is encouraging Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to submit bids for a share of £30 million in funding as the government commits to support cutting-edge healthcare technology. This funding aims to alleviate the strain on the NHS and may encompass initiatives like broadening the adoption of 3D screenings to expedite cancer diagnosis, as well as exploring innovative approaches like utilising drones for logistical use.
Across England, Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), will have the opportunity to allocate resources for adopting state-of-the-art technology. This technology aims to reduce waiting times, expedite diagnoses and introduce innovative treatment methods to enhance patient care.
ICSs will have the flexibility to utilise the funding based on the specific requirements of their local communities. This includes the potential expansion of virtual wards, enabling a larger number of patients to receive care within the comfort of their homes. This, in turn, will alleviate the strain on hospital bed capacity. Notably, the NHS has already established more than 9,800 virtual ward beds, and it remains on course to meet its goal of delivering 10,000 beds in advance of the winter season.
Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) may consider investing in wearable medical devices for patients to utilise at home, facilitating the diagnosis and control of various chronic ailments. These devices enable the tracking of crucial indicators like blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. Alternatively, directing resources towards digital 3D and other imaging technologies could enhance diagnostic examinations, aiding the NHS in the earlier detection and treatment of conditions such as cancer and other critical illnesses.
The government's decision to invest in medical technology follows the release of its Medical Technology Strategy, which aimed to implement measures ensuring patient access to safe, effective, and innovative medical technology within the NHS. This investment also complements the £21 million fund allocated for Artificial Intelligence (AI) diagnostics, which seeks to enhance access to cutting-edge AI technology for diagnosis and treatment purposes.
Furthermore, the government's investment in medical technology is part of a broader effort to support the NHS during the upcoming winter season. This includes the £200 million investment announced in September to bolster the healthcare system's resilience and expedite patient care in the coming months. Additionally, the Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan unveiled in January, commits to delivering 5,000 new permanent, fully staffed hospital beds, 10,000 virtual ward beds, and 800 new ambulances, with a backing of £1 billion.
This investment showcases the government's dedication to equipping healthcare professionals with the tools they need to provide high-quality care and underscores its vision for a technologically empowered NHS that can meet the healthcare challenges of the United Kingdom.