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NHS 111 to Trial App in Place of Health Advisors

NHS 111 is set to trial the rollout of an artificial intelligence app that patients will chat to instead of speaking to a health advisor.

The app, called babylon, will be trialled for the next next six months with 1.2m residents of north central London. The app will complete a question based triage for urgent but non-life-threatening conditions.

Instead of your call being taken by a health advisor and describing their ailments over the phone, patients will type in their symptoms into the app and it will decide how urgent their medical needs are.

The new measure is a national drive by health officials to “digitise” the health service, while speeding up help for minor complaints to reduce strain on emergency services and GPs.

Health officials said the trial aimed to “reduce pressure on the NHS during the winter and beyond.”

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Users of the chatbot will still speak to a healthcare professional if deemed necessary. NHS 111 insist that service will speed up, not slow down, access to healthcare.

If successful the NHS 111 chat-bot will be set for a nationwide rollout later this year. Health Ministers are already receiving heavy criticism from professionals and patient action groups.

Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “I find this quite frightening. People who are ill want a person they can speak to. Typing in your own symptoms and waiting for a result is just ridiculous – what happens if you make a mistake?