The speed in which cancer diagnoses are issued could double in Oldham.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to be harnessed by the Northern Care Alliance (NCA) NHS Foundation Trust to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

AI tools, which will help staff analyse X-rays and CT scan quickly and accurately, are expected to be in place by winter, in a move which anticipated to increase efficiency and cut waiting times at the Royal Oldham Hospital.

Labour cabinet member for health and social care on Oldham Council, Cllr Barbara Brownbridge said: “Anything that helps bring down waiting times makes sense, as long as everybody is happy that it’s safe then I’m supportive.

“If it’s something that is going to speed up diagnoses then that is something that I welcome.”

It comes after the government allocated £21m to 64 NHS trusts across England, which will increase the rate that the NHS perform its over 600,000 chest X-rays each month.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay hosted a roundtable with NHS trusts, industry leaders and health officials to identify ways of speeding up the roll out of AI in health and social care.

“We are rolling out more cutting-edge AI technology across the NHS to help with quicker, more accurate diagnosis of lung cancer because patients deserve the best care possible,” he said.

“AI is already being used in the NHS to halve treatment times for stroke patients and to assist doctors in analysing brain scans, reducing the time between admission and treatment by more than one hour - saving valuable staff time and improving patient recovery. 

“We’re building on this success to make sure lung cancer patients get the support they need, when they need it.”

During the meeting discussions were focused on the safe deployment of AI to help cut waiting lists and relieve pressure on hospitals, free up staff time by automating admin tasks, and support people in care settings to live more independently. 

AI tools are now live in over 90 per cent of stroke networks in England - halving the time for stroke victims to get treatment in some cases, and again helping to cut waiting times.

One of the tools used in stroke cases is Brainomix e-Stroke which uses AI to analyse brain scans of people who have had strokes to assist doctors with diagnosis and treatment decisions.

According to the department of health and social cares, early studies have shown Brainomix can reduce the time between a patient arriving at hospital after they’ve had a stroke, to receiving treatment by more than one hour through providing instant interpretations of brain scans to help guide treatment and transfer decisions for stroke patients faster.

It also stated that the studies also showed it can triple the number of people achieving functional independence after having a stroke – from 16 per cent to 48 per cent.

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