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Artificial intelligence, tax rises, Amazon’s Alexa, and the Chelsea Flower show- this week&#82

Millions pledged to help develop AI research to assist early cancer diagnosis

As part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, Theresa May has pledged millions of pounds for the development of artificial intelligence that will be able to diagnose cancer and chronic diseases earlier, potentially changing outcomes for thousands of patients. As part of the announcement, the Prime Minster said: “The development of smart technologies to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings, opens up a whole new field of medical research and gives us a new weapon in our armoury in the fight against disease.” The plans currently estimate that at least 50,000 people could be diagnosed earlier with prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer each year, with up to 22,000 deaths from cancer prevented by 2033.

Read more in The Guardian.


Taxes need to rise by £2,000 per household to keep the NHS afloat

The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Health Foundation have said that if the NHS is avoid “a decade of misery”, the NHS needs an extra four per cent in spending. This works out as £2,000 per household, for the next 15 years. The rises in tax, the think tanks have said, are the only realistic way of paying for the needed spending. Faced with a growing ageing population, the demands on the health service are becoming increasingly acute. This comes as ministers debate how best to spend any extra money that may be made available from the long-term funding plan promised by the Prime Minster.

Read more on BBC News.


Government announces the world’s first global ministerial summit on mental health

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that London will host the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in October. Attendees will be tasked with ensuring countries work together to make sure healthcare systems around the world value mental health as much as physical health. The sharing of best practice will also be high on the agenda, as they learn from each other to deal with issues around stigma, discrimination and increasing numbers of young people suffering from depression and anxiety.



Amazon developing health and wellness feature within Alexa

Amazon are building a health and wellness team as part of its Alexa division, the company’s voice assistant. The team have been charged with making Alexa ‘more useful in the health-care field’, and will focus on diabetes management, infant and mother care, as well as the frail and elderly. This follows the March launch by Public Health England to deliver NHS-approved breastfeeding advice.

Read more on Digital Health.


Jeremy Hunt criticises NHS reforms under his predecessor

Speaking to author Nicholas Timmins for his new book, The World’s Biggest Quango, the Secretary of State stated that he would not have embarked on many of the reforms to the NHS that were overseen by his predecessor, Andrew Lansley. This included the critique of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which Mr Hunt said ‘Balkanised’ the NHS into ‘fiefdoms’. Since the Act’s adoption into law, the government has been unpicking the legislation, keen to avoid another top-down NHS reorganisation.

Read more in The Times (£).


Quotes of the week

A collection of #hometovote tweets from those travelling back to Ireland to vote in the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment on abortion:

“As Ireland goes #hometovote to #RepealThe8th today, please remember Savita Halappanavar who died of sepsis after being denied an abortion for a pregnancy even after doctors said miscarriage was inevitable. Her death was a catalyst for this referendum. She was 31.”-@MorabitoCM

“Last minute decision to go #hometovote to #repealthe8th No flights left from London, so I have a 4 hour train, 4 hour wait and 3 hour ferry to make it home to vote- which is a walk in the park in comparison to the journey that Irish women are making every day to the UK”- @michellemarleyy

“All the #hometovote celebrating feels like a response to all the silent, secret journeys that went the other way. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the silence is broken.”-@janecaseyauthor

Matt Keightley, who designed the RHS Feel Good Garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, has spoken about the importance that gardening can play in improving mental health, and how this factored into the design of the Feel Good Garden:

“It’s a planting that has quite organic and quite natural form. And the idea behind that is rather than geometry and straight lines – you don’t want people to feel forced through the garden, they need to feel compelled to move into it and meander round it at their own pace, and feel at complete ease when they move through the garden.”

Read more in The Telegraph.

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