The NHS has caused controversy by handing the US spy technology company Palantir a £480m contract to create a new data platform, triggering fears about the privacy of patients’ medical details.
The move immediately prompted concerns about the security and privacy of patient medical records and the suitability of Palantir to be given access to and oversight of such sensitive material.
NHS England has given Palantir and its partner Accenture a five-year contract to set up and operate the “federated data platform” (FDP). This software will allow individual health service trusts as well as the NHS’s 42 integrated care systems – regional groupings of trusts – to “talk” to each other digitally and share data in an effort to improve care, cut waiting times and make the service more efficient.
But its creation has been overshadowed by Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, as well as tech, medical and civil liberties groups, voicing unease about Palantir, the potential for patients’ data being mishandled and also whether patients will be able to opt out of the FDP sharing their data.