All health and care staff – including pharmacists – should be trained in artificial intelligence (AI), a new report by Health Education England (HEE) and the NHS AI Lab has found.

HEE today announced the publication of its joint report setting out recommendations for health education and training providers in England so that they can ‘plan, resource, develop and deliver new training packages on AI for health and care staff’.

It said that its research found that ‘all health and care staff should receive training in artificial intelligence (AI) with additional specialist training for those who use AI tools in clinical practice’.

This comes with the ‘possibility of further spread of AI’ within the health sector, it added.

It said: ‘AI technologies are already helping clinicians in trials across the NHS to care for patients and could further support the health and care service to detect and manage diseases like cancer.’

The report found that general practice was one of the most ‘key clinical areas using AI’, ranking third out of 67 clinical areas.

It also found that GPs were among the top five workforce groups who were ‘identified as direct users of AI technologies’.

Out of 155 workforce groups analysed, GPs came second after medics working in clinical radiology in the list of ‘most affected workforce groups’.

The report concluded: ‘The educational requirements identified in this report will need to be adopted through change to educational curricula and the provision of AI-specific content, alongside concrete changes to roles and career paths for specialist AI healthcare workers.’

It added: ‘Educating healthcare workers to develop, implement and use AI effectively and safely is a multidimensional challenge, involving undergraduate education, postgraduate training, and lifelong learning.’

As part of the next steps, HEE will engage with organisations and relevant groups to share ‘updates on progress being made’, it said.

It follows a previous report by the same team which found that ‘the vast majority of clinicians were unfamiliar with AI technologies’, HEE added.

The report published in May concluded that while AI has the potential to relieve pressures on the NHS and its workforce, frontline healthcare staff ‘need bespoke and specialised support before they will confidently use it’.

HEE today said that ‘there was a risk that without appropriate training and support, patients would not equally share in the benefits offered by AI as it is deployed across the NHS over the coming years’.

HEE director of innovation, digital and transformation Patrick Mitchell said the report highlights the ‘need for targeted training across the professions to truly unlock the potential of AI in workforce and service transformation going on today’.

Alan Davies, innovative programs and partnerships director at HEE, added: ‘We have been delighted that this groundbreaking work has been welcomed by colleagues in NICE and MHRA as complementary and timely, and that colleagues across the devolved nations share our interest and determination to build on this further with related learning and educational materials.’

Nearly eight in ten pharmacy team members think that mobile devices would improve efficiency, but over 60% don’t have a smartphone and two-thirds don’t have a tablet device for use within the pharmacy.

A version of this article was published on our sister publication Pulse.