The NHS has awarded US spy-tech agency Palantir a £24.9 million ($31.7 million) deal to cowl the one-year transition from June 12, 2023, to a brand new £480 million ($611 million) knowledge platform. The controversial competitors for that half-billion-pound platform is ready to conclude in September.
NHS England, the well being division quango, first began working with the US knowledge analytics firm through the peak of the pandemic, when a £1 award [PDF] led to a £1 million ($1.7 million) deal, after which a £23 million ($29.2 million) contract signed in December 2020 with out competitors for a COVID-linked knowledge retailer and associated analytics.
That deal was topic to the specter of judicial evaluation from campaigners, who argued the contract represented such a change in knowledge utilization it warranted public session underneath British knowledge safety legislation. NHS England later agreed to not lengthen Palantir’s contract past the pandemic with out consulting the general public.
In January, NHS England prolonged that deal by six months for a price of £11.5 million ($14.64 million), the utmost 50 % worth extension allowed with out competitors underneath UK public procurement legislation. On the time, tech legislation marketing campaign group Foxglove stated it had not seen any of the session they promised over the past authorized spherical over the COVID knowledge retailer. That deal got here to an finish on June 11.
Palantir earned an early fame creating bespoke options equivalent to digital profiling instruments for the CIA and ICE, the US immigration enforcement company. The corporate was based by distinguished Trump financier and PayPal investor Peter Thiel.
Bridge till FDP… the ‘must-win’ platform
NHS England has now awarded one other deal to Palantir as a “transition contract” whereas it finalizes the procurement of a Federated Information Platform, a £480 million challenge to seize use circumstances supported by the present knowledge retailer and extra. Palantir considers the FDP competitors a “must-win,” in response to studies.
An NHS spokesperson stated: “The brand new interim contract will guarantee there isn’t any hole in service provision and help the graceful transition from one platform to a different.
“The Federated Information Platform procurement course of is separate to this and is happening in accordance with strict procurement guidelines. The profitable provider of the FDP shall be required to undergo due diligence earlier than the contract is awarded, and thru varied phases all through its lifetime.”
Over £60 million has now been handed to Peter Thiel’s spy-tech agency with zero aggressive tender, zero session, and subsequent to no public engagement.
The “transition and exit” deal has been awarded underneath the Crown Business Providers Massive Information & Analytics framework.
NHS England denied it had created a brand new deal to keep away from difficulties with procurement legislation in extending the unique contract, The Register understands.
Foxglove director Cori Crider stated: “With each fats verify handed to Palantir it seems to be an increasing number of just like the £480 million FDP contract is not a contest – it is a stitch-up. Over £60 million has now been handed to Peter Thiel’s spy-tech agency with zero aggressive tender, zero session, and subsequent to no public engagement. That is poor apply for the spending of public cash. It is also an enormous danger to affected person belief.”
Current analysis from YouGov discovered nearly half of adults in England who haven’t but opted out, 48 %, are doubtless to take action ought to the FDP be launched and run by a personal firm. Thirty per cent had been very prone to.
A latest report [PDF] from the Medical doctors’ Affiliation and Foxglove argued that the FDP can be over centralized and result in a lock-in to the profitable bidder.
The report known as on UK Parliament to analyze the FDP procurement to have a look at its worth for cash and its dangers to affected person belief, and pause the method till essential questions could be answered.
The Register understands that the aim of the transition deal is to “bundle up” functions utilizing the information retailer and be sure that the “code is liftable,” which isn’t the case in the intervening time.
In addition to replicating elements of the COVID-19 knowledge retailer platform providers, the FDP would help 5 “preliminary” use circumstances together with elective restoration, which is lowering the backlog of important, however not pressing, operations at the moment at document highs. Additionally they embody plans to help “organizational interfaces” supporting affected person discharge.
Palantir additionally at the moment helps the Quicker Information Move program, which sees the federal government extract affected person knowledge from hospitals. It should additionally change into a part of the FDP program.
On condition that Palantir at the moment helps a number of knowledge initiatives anticipated to change into a part of the FDP program, critics have argued it’s at an unfair benefit within the £480 million ($611 million) competitors. NHS England argues it’s a truthful and open competitors.
Sam Smith, coordinator at well being privateness marketing campaign group MedConfidential, stated: “That is their interoperability – shifting knowledge in secret from one Palantir to a different. If senior workers believed within the ‘aggressive dialogue’ they’re working or believed in interoperability in any respect, they’d have stated that each course of within the present Palantir facet of the information retailer shall be printed for reuse.
“It isn’t that the method is essentially corrupt; however small choices maintain getting made that favour the incumbent, as a result of these doing the work assume that is what [NHS England director of transformation] Tim Ferris and management need them to do.” ®