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Artificial Intelligence

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 24 July 2018

18. What assessment he has made of the opportunity for artificial intelligence tools to improve the provision of healthcare. (906624)

The Government believe that artificial intelligence and other digital technologies have the potential to transform health and care services. Our work on that includes investing over £400 million in tech transformation, which I announced last week. There is much more to do.

I also welcome my right hon. Friend to his new role. He will bring tremendous energy and enthusiasm, particularly into the information advantage that we know is needed to transform the NHS. Does he share my view that not only will this transform patient outcomes but we can use artificial intelligence to improve patient treatments? What are his initial views of the obstacles standing in the way of rapid uptake of such technologies?

There are huge opportunities for AI to improve patient outcomes and to make life easier for staff. In answer to the second part of my hon. Friend’s question, it is all about getting interoperable data rules and standards in place so that different systems can talk to each other in a secure, safe and innovative way.

When we were at university together there was nothing, in my judgment, about the hon. Gentleman’s intelligence that was artificial.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is not just artificial intelligence. The development of other life sciences and new technologies can have a massive effect on improving people’s healthcare, such as the development of treatments like Orkambi for people with cystic fibrosis. Will the Secretary of State make it an important priority to cut through the impasse between NHS England and the manufacturer, Vertex, so that people with cystic fibrosis can finally get access to the drugs they need?

As the Clerk advises—his is the intellectual copyright—the hon. Gentleman has used his intelligence artificially to shoehorn his preoccupation into a question to which it has no other relation. But he has got away with it on this occasion, as it is the last day and we are all in a summer mood.

I welcome the power of new technologies to bring new drugs to the table. NHS England has made a very generous final offer to the manufacturer of Orkambi. Having spoken to those involved again over the past couple of days, I understand that a meeting has been offered to the company but not taken up. The company can break this impasse by accepting the very generous offer on the table.