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Health secretary announces invasive plan to have AI listening in on NHS appointments

CAMPAIGNERS raised the alarm today after the government announced invasive plans for AI to listen in on NHS patients’ private appointments.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins announced the scheme on Wednesday after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had unveiled a £3.4 billion investment in NHS IT to “boost productivity.”

Transcribing the announcement, the artificial intelligence mistakenly recorded her as referring to England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty as “Christmas.”

The AI will automatically generate notes in the background during appointments, Ms Atkins said, claiming that its use will cut the time that medics spend on doing paperwork. 

However, campaigners voiced scepticism over the plan.

Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr John Puntis said it is wrong to see new technology as the “solution to the massive problems the NHS currently faces, [as] these stem primarily from chronic underinvestment and horrendous staff vacancies.”

“Details of any such systems should be made public and [they should only be used] subject to consultation and road testing [and] if shown to fully protect confidentiality as well as being safe and promoting efficiency.”

Cori Crider, director of new technology watchdog group Foxglove, said: “If the government treats people like adults and gives them clear and transparent control and consent over how this tech is used, this could be a quite literal lifesaver. 

“But there are no shortcuts to winning that trust and government has a terrible track record of trying to slip new NHS tech past patients without bothering to get their permission.

“Both doctors and patients need government to stop trying to skip this essential step and do better.”

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