NHS breaks up £400mn knowledge contract in response to privateness considerations



The UK’s NHS has damaged up a £400mn showpiece knowledge contract into a number of elements, however US knowledge analytics large Palantir stays essentially the most distinguished bidder for the well being service’s working system.

The corporate is finest identified for its ties to the safety, defence and intelligence sectors and its drive to course of tens of millions of sufferers’ knowledge has alarmed some privateness activists and NHS workers.

Palantir remains to be set to bid for the contract to function the NHS’s foremost knowledge platform — essentially the most profitable aspect of the contract with a worth of £360mn.

However now that the NHS has damaged up the general contract, Palantir wouldn’t be capable of bid for related however smaller tasks for privateness expertise or an app-store fashion market. It isn’t clear whether or not it might nonetheless compete for a fourth contract masking coaching, implementation and deployment.

Ming Tang, chief knowledge and analytics officer at NHS England, instructed the Monetary Occasions the organisation had cut up up the procurement for the general £400mn Federated Information Platform programme into 4 contracts to “safeguard” the service.

“Whoever processes the platform can’t personal the privateness enhancing expertise so the important thing switch [of data] is secure,” she stated.

Tang added that the much-delayed undertaking, which is able to allow the sharing of knowledge throughout NHS England, is awaiting log off from the Treasury.

Suppliers realized they’d be barred from bidding for all elements of the undertaking in August, in accordance with a doc seen by the FT. An invite to tender is predicted within the coming weeks.

A senior well being determine stated at the very least one British firm was more likely to have a practical probability of profitable a part of the contract, serving to defuse considerations a couple of US firm processing UK well being knowledge.

Palantir assumed the position of the NHS’s foremost knowledge analytics supplier through the pandemic, serving to handle the usage of ventilators and protecting gear and organise vaccinations.

The group landed an additional £23.5mn contract to deal with ready lists in December 2020.

The federated knowledge platform is a a lot bigger prize. Palantir, whose founders embrace entrepreneur Peter Thiel and chief government Alex Karp, has maintained that the group’s expertise can ship all facets of the programme.

Tang sought to dismiss solutions that splitting up the contract was supposed to restrict Palantir’s position. “The division is simply how you can safeguard the NHS,” she stated this week. “There may be fairly an obsession with Palantir. If we are able to discover another that’s higher [than Palantir], that’s what we’ll find yourself with.”

One other particular person aware of the discussions instructed the FT the transfer was the possible results of recommendation from procurement and knowledge safety consultants, whereas additionally reflecting considerations about one firm working your entire programme.

However Phil Sales space at MedConfidential, a privateness campaigning group, stated the division of the programme didn’t present transparency on how sufferers’ knowledge could be used.

Palantir, which employed two senior NHS officers over the summer season, together with Tang’s former deputy at NHS England, Harjeet Dhaliwal, stated it was “relaxed” in regards to the transfer to interrupt up the contract. It added that the choice was “very rightly one for the NHS, and the NHS alone to make”.

It is going to compete for the primary platform contract in opposition to different teams, together with Britain’s Quantexa, a supplier of knowledge infrastructure to banks akin to Normal Chartered and HSBC. Quantexa’s chief government Vishal Marria stated it deliberate to bid as a part of a consortium with a big consulting agency.

Teams jockeying for the smaller £35mn privateness enhancing expertise contract embrace Privitar, a British knowledge privateness software program firm that has present contracts with NHS Digital.

In an indication of considerations inside the NHS about Palantir’s position, Tang confronted a number of questions in regards to the US firm from delegates at a digital well being convention this week.

Dr Marcus Baw, a GP and privateness campaigner, was applauded by some delegates when stated he wouldn’t award the contract to Palantir have been he in her place.

“We’re going by means of a bloody procurement and we are going to purchase no matter’s finest on the market,” Tang replied.

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