Can AI Save The NHS?

Facing a shortfall of £20 billion and struggling to meet the demands of an ageing population the NHS is under great strain with claims that AI may be the only option left to save it.



The NHS has already started to experiment with AI. For six months more than 1.2  million residents of North and Central London will no longer be able to use the NHS 111 non-emergency helpline. They will instead be assisted by Babylon’s artificially intelligent medical app. The non-emergency line is said to be bleeding vital funds with every call costing the NHS between £12-16 (Financial Times, 2017) , with further impact from large numbers of non-emergency patients directed to overflowing  A & E departments. The helpline has also been criticised as ‘unsafe’  due to a shortage of staff and after inspection last year the industry watchdog, The Care Quality Commission, deemed it inadequate.

Systems like Babylon could augment and eventually replace the judgment of trained human professionals. Deep analysis of Big Data from the medical sector will form a reliable catalogue of knowledge far superior to anything an unaided human could recall and AI could be more successful in correctly answering the question that the 111 service is intended for which is not “What’s wrong with me?” but “Do I really need to see a doctor?

There are plenty of people who want to take AI deeper into the NHS. Google’s DeepMind project is pledging to build technology tools to support the NHS so it can continue to be free at the point of use.  Maclaren F1  are investing in healthcare. Their first step has been to join forces with pharmaceutical giant GSK to run clinical trials in which recovering stroke and Motor Neurone Disease patients are monitored using a discreet patch positioned on the neck to transmit activity readings. Stemming from the idea that tweaking performance is the route to a podium finish the same skills and techniques are being used by their Applied Technologies division who are looking for ways to improve health outcomes. The dream that human bodies could one day be monitored in the same fashion, with every subtle change analysed like a Formula1 car is quite quickly becoming a reality.

There are many who say this level of sophisticated tech has little place in the NHS and possibly risks pushing it further towards privatisation as it encourages a reductionist view of people. The psychological component effecting human health has little representation in data-driven guidance and concern over computer diagnostics of human illness is palpable. People are not cars. People are not machines. Much of what’s currently wrong with the NHS is a lack of money rather than sophisticated technology. Dr. Sarah Jarvis, a practising GP, health educator and medical broadcaster, believes AI has a place in the future of healthcare, but not at the exclusion of the doctor-patient relationship.

For the time being, rather than attempting to replace medical professionals AI may be better focused on finding and recruiting the best of them. The most talented workers and highest skilled professionals are needed right now as the strained conditions make working in the NHS increasingly difficult. Stress and exhaustion appear to come as part of the package, add that to the responsibility of keeping people alive safe and healthy, and it becomes a very heavy load to bear.

Due to health cuts many doctors, fearing being forced to work under unsafe conditions, are now choosing work abroad. The Nursing Bursary, relied on by students of all ages is no longer available and there is no longer incentive for older people to leave paid work to return to education with tuition fees at a record high.

The idea of a difficult and expensive student experience leading to pay-caps and unsafe working hours has caused a huge reduction in the number of graduates taking this route. The steadily diminishing talent pool means the best talent hunting skills are necessary to keep up the standards of the NHS, yet there are limited funds to invest in recruitment.

JobsTheWord, an advanced recruitment system using AI and Big Data to provide real-time insights on both candidates and the job market as a whole, can make a positive change to the in-house recruitment practices of healthcare organisations. Already used by some of the world’s largest healthcare organisations (NHS, BUPA, Emis) it’s success in this industry has been proven.

JobsTheWord’s Horsefly Analytics  tool has been designed to simplify the recruiting process in any industry and provides the quickest route to finding the best talent. It is able to provide accurate supply and demand figures for any role, compare competitor job ads, salary points, graduation data and much more. Importantly it can positively discriminate against the candidate market according to your precise hire requirements. 

Data Source ; Horsefly Analytics Tool, JobsTheWord


The data in this chart shows the top universities producing medical professionals in the UK and enables recruiters to tailor their graduate programs to specific locations and education facilities.

The health industry is overdue a revolution. AI certainly could help the NHS and if implemented in the correct way it could save it.   For details on how our analytics tools can help you find and contact the premium talent your organisation needs, contact Steve Bebbington, Client Partner at







Mike Sandiford
Head of Partnerships
0207 193 9931

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