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Boris Johnson pledges £200m for cancer screening overhaul

AI-enabled machines have lower radiation levels

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged £200m in funding to replace MRI machines, CT scanners and breast screening equipment.

The equipment aims to improve the quality of screening and speed of diagnosis.

The machines have lower radiation levels, they are more reliable and they offer different types of scans, which will enable more patients to be seen using less equipment.

The machines will be artificial intelligence (AI) enabled to ensure they are AI ready when an update is available.

The £200 million of new funding is part of the government’s pledge to ensure 55,000 more people survive cancer each year.

In the NHS Long Term Plan, the government committed to diagnosing three-quarters of cancers at an early stage by 2028 through improved screening processes.

Newer CT scanners will help identify cancers more quickly and will pick up a range of other health conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  

To support earlier diagnosis, the NHS is also introducing rapid diagnostic and assessment centres, helping to detect cancer in people with a range of symptoms like unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.

Allocation of the new machines will be based on an assessment of local infrastructure and local population need, and the funding will be split across two years.

“The NHS is the best healthcare service in the world, and the treatment and care it provides is one reason cancer survival rates are at a record high,” said Johnson. “But too many lives are still being lost to this shattering illness. We can, must, and will do so much more for sufferers and their families.”