An AI staff scheduling tool which helped Lancashire carers increase the number of visits they complete by a third could help cut spiralling NHS waiting lists, its founder has said.

Dr Ben Maruthappu, founder of social care provider and health-tech company Cera, has said the artificial intellegence-powered platform could slash waiting lists and discharge delays.

His claims come days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admitted he has failed in one of his five key promises, to cut NHS waiting lists.

The system scans its database of available workers and matches them to the most appropriate patient, considering factors include training specialisms, languages spoken and the patient’s health condition.

It comes following a pilot programme in Lancashire, where initial data, which involved more than 6,000 care appointments, found the technology reduced staff travelling distance by 57 per cent, by assigning workers to patients in a closer vicinity.

This allowed carers to complete 33 per cent more visits than they would have without using the AI scheduler.

The scheduling tool is also being used in London, Liverpool and Birmingham, and Cera wants to roll out the technology nationwide by the end of the year.

Dr Maruthappy, who started Cera in 2016 while working in A&E, said: “This means that care can start almost instantly, rather than hours or even days later.

“The manual matching of patients and carers would usually take considerable time, depending on the efficiency of those doing the pairing and their assessments of available skills and patient needs.”

While a private company,  the majority of Cera's business is providing social care on behalf of the NHS and local authorities.

Dr Maruthappu said with the aid of the platform “patients can be discharged from hospital to home on the same day” in many cases.

He said: “The industry norm sees this process usually taking days or weeks, and the 13,000 medically fit patients waiting in hospital beds is testament to the scale of this problem.

“Using AI in the way Cera does to appropriately speed up discharge into community care will make a significant difference in creating more hospital capacity, and in turn, help tackle waiting lists.”

Last week it was revealed about 7.6 million treatments were waiting to be carried out on the NHS in England at the end of December, relating to 6.37 million patients.

Dr Maruthappu also said the AI scheduler does not restrict carers’ time with patients, but “actually achieves the opposite”.

“The tool enables us to reach an optimal balance that focuses on improving the quality of home care being delivered.

“Efficiencies are driven by who is scheduled and how, rather than cutting care visit times.”

Dr Maruthappu believes AI “can revolutionise almost every part of social care, supporting frontline staff in going further for patients”.

“This belief sits at the very core of what Cera does because, via my own experiences as an NHS doctor and also as someone who needed to arrange home care for a loved one, I have first-hand experience of where the challenges lie.

“It’s this lived experience that has driven Cera’s innovation.

“We’re at the beginning of an AI revolution in healthcare and I truly believe no sector is in greater need.

"Social care is a sector rife with paperwork and AI can help automate much of this, giving staff time back to focus on delivering care and improving quality.”

He also warned a “total revamp” of social care “will not be achieved by simply throwing more money at recruitment and existing care structures” but instead “via a complete refocus around how technology can underpin social care operations”.