The US analytics and AI firm Palantir, partnering with Accenture, could be awarded as the £480m Federated Data Platform (FDP) procurement winner. The announcement is expected after ministers signed off on the decision.
Palantir, the current supplier for FDP, was widely seen as the favourite throughout the procurement process. Its main rivals were Oracle and IBM.
Background on Federated Data Platform
The FDP platform is intended to help NHS trusts better manage data in their hospitals, connecting up information held by different trusts and allowing the health service to draw conclusions about population health trends.
The platform should help individual hospitals manage their data more effectively to drive improvements in treatment and waiting times. It is not meant to replace existing IT systems but to help integration between them. Initially, the FDP will not cover GP medical records, only acute hospital data. But the scope could expand in future.
Controversy and criticism
The awarding of the FDP contract has been subject to controversy. Critics like the British Medical Association have raised serious concerns about an alleged lack of public consultation and vetting of bidders on ethical grounds.
The BMA worries this could make patients reluctant to share their data, undermining the platform's utility. They argue the public and medical profession have not been adequately engaged and want greater transparency over the procurement.
There are also questions over what the £480m contract is actually purchasing. The National Data Guardian has called on NHS England to demonstrate more integrity and openness about the procurement.
Palantir's track record
Palantir has been working with the NHS since the pandemic. It has since won contracts worth about £60m, becoming embedded in the health data infrastructure.
This track record as an incumbent supplier likely will help Palantir win the competitive FDP tender over rivals. However, some will continue questioning whether a US firm is central to NHS data.
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