The Department of Health and Social Care has released an additional £215 million to help tackle some of the biggest health challenges facing the NHS.

The funding package will be used to support research into improving the lives of people living with long-term health conditions, mental health issues and obesity, as well as address pressures faced by the UK healthcare system as a result of an ageing population.

Announced recently by health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the money will also be used to support the development of technologies that give patients more control over the treatment they receive.

Hunt said: “As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, more people than ever before are living longer lives thanks to the dedication of hardworking staff. It is therefore vital we harness technology to develop the next generation of innovative treatments as part of the government’s long-term plan for the NHS.

“That’s why I want our world-leading academics, researchers and technology experts to work with frontline staff to develop the innovations which not only allow people to live longer, but also to lead healthier lives, so the NHS can continue to provide world-class care to all.”

The £215m will be portioned between addressing different health and care challenges.

An investment of £150 million will be doled out over the next five years to fund research into tackling “important emerging issues”, including increased demands on the NHS and the challenges of an ageing population.

The remaining £65 million will go towards 13 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) policy units. These units will be tasked with developing policy to help inform decision-making on behavioural science, adult social care, older people and frailty, cancer awareness, screening and early diagnosis.

On top of the £215 million, an additional £3 million is being invested in the formation of a new research leader programme for nurses and midwives, which will be tasked with influencing new approaches to health and care and improving patient experience.

In April, the Department of Health and Social Care announced it would release £760 million into transforming NHS hospitals and community services, which included how digital technology could be used to improve efficiency.

Meanwhile last month, Prime Minister Theresa May said the NHS would receive an extra £20bn a year in funding by 2023 to help drive improvements in Britain’s healthcare service, with technology playing a key role.

Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “With a growing and ageing population, maintaining a world-class NHS depends on harnessing the discoveries of cutting-edge research and rapidly bringing them into everyday healthcare.

“The UK has a proud tradition of ground-breaking medical R&D and this funding means our country can continue to lead the world.”