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Sunak tells NHS to embrace robot workers as it prepares to sack staff

by Ozva Admin

Rishi Sunak has urged the NHS to adopt the use of robots as the health service prepares to cut its workforce by half in a drastic bid to cut costs.

The prime minister said supporting innovation was a “defining focus” of his tenure, describing increased automation and investment in robotics as “low-hanging fruit” that will boost wages and economic growth “rapidly”.

“If we can get it right with more robotics and automation, then we can increase productivity. It takes some of the pressure off the workforce and creates good jobs for people,” he told an audience of business leaders in Birmingham.

It came as Sunak vowed to “radically innovate” Britain’s health service with new technology in a “bold” move that would challenge “conventional wisdom” in health care reform.

Ministers are drawing up plans to halve England’s 6,500 NHS bureaucrats and remove a number of targets to allow hospitals more control over how money is spent.

Sunak told the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference that “better care requires innovation” in medicines and new technologies.

The prime minister also ruled out closer trade ties with the European Union if it meant following the dictates of Brussels, but noted that the Government would open the door to more qualified immigrants to boost the economy.

In the clearest indication yet that the UK will not seek a swiss style treatment which is based on following European rules, the prime minister said regulatory freedom was one of the biggest benefits of leaving the bloc.

“Let me be unequivocal on this,” he said. “Under my leadership, I will not seek any relationship with Europe that is based on alignment with EU laws.”

Sunak also said Brexit had allowed “proper control of our borders”, vowing to tackle illegal immigration and “give confidence to the British people that the system works and is fair”.

He said: “I voted for Brexit. I believe in Brexit and I know that Brexit can and is already bringing huge benefits and opportunities for the country. Migration is immediate, where we have adequate control of our borders and are able to have a conversation with our country about the kind of migration we want and need.”

The government relies on an increase in net migration to help fuel growth as innovation slows. The Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) forecast that net migration would settle at 205,000 per year from 2026.

This is significantly higher than Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s long-term goal of reducing net migration to less than 100,000.

Growing NHS waiting lists they have left a record 2.5 million people unable to work due to prolonged illness, with an additional 133,000 people having been left out of the workforce for health reasons alone in the three months to September.

The prime minister also said it was important that UK rules governing financial services and trade be “future-proof”. He added: “Having the regulatory freedom to do that is a significant Brexit opportunity.”

Andy Briggs, chief executive of insurance giant Phoenix Group, which owns Standard Life, said EU red tape has contributed to an investment gap in the UK.

He said: “UK pension savings are the second largest in the world at £3.4 trillion. But only 7% is invested in [UK] productive assets. The average for the world’s seven largest nations is 19 percent.”

Briggs said the government’s decision to depart from EU rules governing insurers would free up up to £50bn of capital to invest in the UK economy. “Regulations were getting in the way of that, and those regulations are being changed,” he said.

Sunak also noted that the UK was in talks about joining a global trade pact with some of the world’s biggest economies, including Canada and Japan. He described the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which was signed in 2018, as a “fantastic opportunity for the UK”.

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