The UK government has announced that the new £36 billion health and social care fund will help to finance innovation and technology in the UK’s medical and social care sectors. The fund is to be partly financed by 1.25 per cent increases in National Insurance and dividend taxes, coming into effect from April 2022.

The money will be used to focus on new forms of treatment, as well as new surgical and diagnostic approaches utilising technology such as AI, surgical hubs and “virtual wards” to enable patients to be assessed more quickly and efficiently.

According to the government’s Department of Health and Social Care, the new funding will mean the NHS can reduce waiting times while helping it to provide a further nine million operations, scans and checks. The department added that funding could help 30 per cent more patients in need of elective care by 2023-24.

Surgical hubs, several of which are already operational within the UK, will be expanded, with more due to be established this year. The government says they will improve the efficiency of patient assessments and fast-track some operations.

Other technologies which could benefit from the new funding include virtual wards and home assessments, pop-up clinics and the use of AI in surgical robotics and in helping to triage and assess patients at GP clinics.

Professor Steve Powis, NHS England Medical Director, said: “The further funding announced this week will support staff to deliver millions more vital checks, tests, and operations, so if you have a health concern, please do come forward to receive the care and treatment you may need.”

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