An independent review into the training needs of NHS staff to use artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics has been launched by the government.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced the review will be led by Dr Eric Topol, an expert in cardiology, genetics and digital medicine.

Dr Topol will look at opportunities where the NHS could invest in training for its tens of thousands of members of staff.

He will also consider the implications on the skills required of future healthcare professionals.

As part of the review, Dr Topol will visit Moorfields Eye Hospital, which is looking at how machine learning technology could help analyse eye scans.

Dr Topol said: “While it’s hard to predict the future, we know artificial intelligence, digital medicine and genomics will have an enormous impact for improving the efficiency and precision in healthcare.

“Our review will focus on the extraordinary opportunities to leverage these technologies for the healthcare workforce and power a sustainable and vibrant NHS.”

Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, welcomed the review, which he said would ensure “the NHS is at the forefront of life-saving, life-changing care across the globe for decades to come”.

Following the announcement of the review, Stephen Barclay, minister of state for Health and Social Care, wrote a column for Digital Health News.

Barclay said his department needed to make sure “NHS staff are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to unleash the full, transformative potential” of new technology.

He added: “Dr Topol’s review, which we believe is the first of its kind in the world, will help us answer that challenge in a definitive way. In its 70th year, it is part of our commitment to make sure that the NHS is “future-fit” and ready to embrace the technological revolution now underway across the medical world.”