The NHS is to trial an AI alternative to the emergency 111 helpline from this month.

A six-month trial will see 1.2 million residents in North and Central London with non-life threating conditions directed to an app which attempts to determine the urgency of a problem and what to do next.

Use of the app, developed by London-based Babylon Health, asks users a series of questions and filters through a database containing the symptoms of every known illness.

The system is said to be 12 times more efficient that the current human-based model.

Babylon founder and CEO Ali ParsaBabylon Health
Babylon founder and CEO Ali Parsa
 Babylon founder and CEO Ali Parsa told the Financial Times: "They have armies of people sitting there on the phone, costing them a fortune.“If they get sick, they need a replacement in place. The cost difference is not little, it’s huge.”OPINION: Tech needs to match NHS staff's compassionEach call to the NHS 111 helpline is reported to cost between £12 and £16 at a time when the Health Service is creaking and under pressure to make efficiency savings.DeepMind co-founders Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman have invested in Babylon, which was founded in 2013.