Robots can’t solve the crisis in the NHS – we still need workers with empathy

Images of trolleys laden with suffering people in corridors, old people hooked up to drips on beds in cupboards – not pictures emerging from Syria, but the latest crisis to hit the NHS.

Waiting times in A&E are unacceptable, with hospitals operating at full capacity; dozens of beds are occupied by people who have nowhere else to go. When even the Health Secretary – the normally unflappable Mr Positive, Jeremy Hunt – admits things are problematic, it’s probably not the best time to publish a report claiming that robots could take over nurses’ jobs.

According to experts at the independent think tank Reform, 250,000 public sector workers, including receptionists, civil servants and administrators, could be replaced by artificially intelligent “chatbots”. They claim that many tasks currently performed by doctors and nurses could be more efficiently executed by robots, from diagnosis to collating information, giving out medication and telling patients the best way to seek treatment, to selecting medical centres or specialist services. According to Reform, Whitehall could lose 130,000 jobs and the NHS 91,000 administrators, while hospitals and doctors would replace 24,000 receptionists.

For full article see The Independent 11 February 2017