AI investment worth £21m to speed up lung cancer diagnosis

The government is investing £21m to ensure AI tools for lung cancer scans are rolled out in select hospitals before the end of the year

Published: 31 October 2023 X-ray

Dozens of NHS Trusts across England have received £21m from the Department for Health and Social Care to roll out AI tools, which staff will use to analyse X-rays and CT scans in diagnosis of lung cancer. 

The deployment of this technology to NHS trusts will support clinicians in their work with “quicker, more accurate diagnosis of conditions,” while “increasing efficiency and cutting down waiting times”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSE) added.

Since the announcement of the funding’s availability in June, the Society of Radiographers (SoR) has worked with the NHS England Digital Diagnostics Capability Programme, NHS AI Lab, English Diagnostic Imaging Networks and colleagues from industry to deliver the “ambitious timescale.”

The technology should be available in select hospitals by the end of the year. See below for a full list of trusts that will recieve a share of the funding. 

Cutting-edge technology

Studies have indicated health inequalities in lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, so the deployment of this funding has a “potential high impact on health outcomes”, the SoR said.

“With oversight from experienced radiologists and reporting radiographer imaging teams, AI technologies have the potential to improve diagnosis and ultimately outcomes for people with lung cancer. There is a need for evaluation of systems and evidence of accuracy when deployed in live clinical situations and patient pathways.”

The safe implementation of AI systems will eventually give radiographers increased time to perform duties and care for patients, the SoR added. This includes informed and shared decision-making with patients, community referral/social prescribing, community access, health and wellbeing duties.

The fund will enable staff to generate evidence, evaluate effects on people and services, and understand the long-term economic costs, supporting calls for evidence from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Safe and efficient deployment

The news comes following a roundtable between NHS trusts, industry leaders and health officials seeking to speed up AI rollout in health and social care. Discussions focused on safe deployment to help cut waiting lists and relieve pressure on hospitals, freeing up staff time by automating admin tasks, and supporting people in care settings to live more independently.

Dr Tracy O’Regan,  professional officer for clinical imaging and research at the SoR, congratulated those trusts and networks who were successful in their funding bids

“It is positive that the health and social care secretary for England this week hosted a roundtable to speed up the roll out of artificial intelligence,” she added. “The Society and College of Radiographers is keen to hear any further outcomes of that meeting and support ongoing work to improve patient care, experience, and outcomes. 

“We are proud of the work that diagnostic radiographers undertake to perform over 40 million examinations for the patients and families that attend imaging departments in England each year.”

The government has already invested £123m into 86 AI technologies, supporting stroke diagnosis, screening, cardiovascular monitoring and managing conditions at home. 

According the DHSC, early studies show AI brain scans in stroke victims can reduce patient waiting times for treatment by more than an hour, providing “instant interpretations” to guide treatment and transfer decisions, as well as tripling the number of people achieving “functional independence” after having a stroke from 16% to 48%.

Risk and reward

However, it warned the technology “does not always lend itself to traditional methods of demonstrating evidence for effectiveness.”

The SoR supports a risk-based approach, and considers it essential that diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers using AI systems are adequately trained and educated to use and evaluate systems prior to their implementation, with clear governance processes and mechanisms in place to raise and rectify any concerns. 

Currently, a human read of images is still required and business continuity plans must be in place in the event of any concerns around AI technology. 

The SoR advised radiographers and departments to make use of various online tools and resources to understand more about the difficulties and benefits of integrating AI in the practices, including a new module on clinical imaging for health professionals and an introduction to AI.

Other resources include:

SoR members, healthcare professionals and patients are asked to keep in touch on X (previously Twitter)" @SoR_AI_Advisory @SCoRMembers. SoR members are also invited to join a synapse network for Digital, Informatics, and Artificial Intelligence via email to [email protected].

Full list of trusts to recieve share of funding

·  East And North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

·  West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

·  Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, NHS Foundation Trust

·  West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

·  North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

·  Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  East Suffolk And North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

·  Mid And South Essex NHS Foundation Trust

·  Norfolk And Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  London North West University Healthcare Nhs Trust

·  The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Chelsea And Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

·  Barts Health NHS Trust

·  Barking, Havering And Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

·  Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

·  Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

·  Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

·  Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

·  Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust

·  Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

·  York And Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Northern Lincolnshire And Goole NHS Foundation Trust

·  County Durham And Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

·  Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

·  North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

·  North Tees And Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

·  Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

·  South Tyneside And Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

·  South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

·  Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

·  Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust

·  Tameside And Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

·  The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

·  Stockport Nhs Foundation Trust

·  Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

·  The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust

·  Countess Of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  East Cheshire NHS Trust

·  Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Liverpool Heart And Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Warrington And Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust

·  Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  Mersey And West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

·  University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

·  Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

·  Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

·  Torbay And South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

·  University Hospitals Sussex

·  Ashford And St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

·  East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

·  Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

·  Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust