NHS signs £10m deal to support rollout of Palantir data platform

The health service has awarded a contract to KPMG to support the rollout of the controversial new national data system, as well as helping develop services to populate the platform

NHS England has signed a potential £10m deal to support the rollout of the Federated Data Platform and the development of data services to populate the new nationwide system.

The FDP – which will be based on technology from big data firm Palantir – is intended to provide a central infrastructure for connecting health service information and services at a national level. The architecture will also enable individual trusts and integrated care boards (ICBs) to create their own data platform and connect it to those established by other local NHS entities.

To support the organisations in making such connections, the NHS has signed a multimillion-pound contract with KPMG. The engagement, which came into effect on 18 March and will last for an initial term of two years, will require the professional services firm to support the NHS “to not only build the Federated Data Platform (FDP) capability, but enhance the data service functions, platforms and integrating services to support the transformation change”, according to a newly published contract notice.

“The supplier will support ICBs and trusts in implementing their individual federated platforms, which will in turn feed into the national model”, the notice adds.

The text of the contract – which is forecast to be worth up to £8.5m, plus VAT – reveals that there are currently 67 data services live on the FDP – all of which are owned by NHS England. KPMG will be expected to collect information on adoption of the FDP and services added to the platform.

Related content

As well as developing more tools centrally, the health service hopes that, over the coming months, local entities will use the new infrastructure to deploy their own data products that, ultimately, will support improved services for patients.

The contract says: “The platform will enable Integrated Care Boards to place citizens at the centre of decision making so that the biggest challenges faced in modern health and care can be tackled head-on: inequalities will be visible and addressable, programmes of work tackling the backlog will be trackable, and ‘form filling and situational reports’ will be reduced. The ambition is that every Trust and [ICB] will have their own ‘federated’ platform which will work alongside their existing systems to enable consistent standards and bring information into one place so that staff are better able to coordinate, plan and deliver high quality care. For example, if every trust and ICS has its own independent platform instance that can interact with the national platform where required to fulfil specific, predetermined national use cases, [this] will allow NHS staff to understand in near real time how many patients are in hospital, how long patients are waiting for critical treatments, [and] where pressure points are.”

The FDP will supersede and build upon the Covid Data Store that was created by the NHS and Palantir in the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis to serve as the core repository for data sets on issues such as infection rates, availability of beds and medicines, waiting lists, future projections and, latterly, vaccine rollouts.

The decision to continue to award the US-based firm a potential £500m deal to deliver a longer-term data platform has attracted much criticism, with those expressing concern about the contract including the human-rights charity Amnesty International and doctors’ union the British Medical Association, whose chair Dr Latifa Patel described the choice of supplier as “deeply worrying”.

A legal campaign opposing the engagement – and calling for greater transparency – is also ongoing. This is being led by the Good Law Project.

On its website, the campaign organisation says: “We fully understand that the NHS needs to store information about patients and we are not against any FDP in principle, but we – and patients’ groups – look at the other decisions NHS England has made, and see problems with those decisions. It’s not surprising then that patients are interested in what control they can exercise over their health data. The law gives patients rights over their personal data. How they work in the NHS context is complex, but from what we can see so far, it appears those rights are not being respected, even before this contract was handed to Palantir.”

Sam Trendall

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Subscribe to our newsletter