NHS England has awarded a contract to operate its future federated data platform project (FDP), worth £330 million, to US data analytics giant Palantir, with support from Accenture, PwC, NECS and Carnall Farrar, NHSE officially announced. 

Palantir was widely seen as the favourite to win throughout the procurement in partnership with Accenture, and has now been selected ahead of rival bidders including Oracle and IBM. 

The contract award will see investment over the course of seven years as more trusts join the platform, the NHS confirmed. In the first contract year, investment is expected to be at least £25.6m. Over the contractual period of seven years, there will be up to £330m investment in the Federated Data Platform and associated services.

NHSE states that no company involved in the FDP can access health and care data without the explicit permission of the NHS. All data within the platform is under the control of the NHS and will only be used for direct care and planning. It will not be used to access data for research purposes and GP data will not feed into the national version of the software platform, it adds.

FDP will support five use cases: population health and person insight, care coordination, supply chain, vaccination and immunisation, and elective recovery.

NHSE categorises the FDP as software designed to sit across NHS trusts and ICSs, allowing them to connect data they already hold in a “secure and safe environment.” GP data will not be included in the project. 

The software will be “federated” across the health service, meaning that each individual organisation will have its own version of the platform that can connect and collaborate with other data platforms as a federation. 

NHSE says the FDP is necessary because it allows different systems to “speak to each other” and work at scale, benefitting patients by ensuring more joined up care, contributing to improved health outcomes. Making it easier for healthcare staff to access information in a single location can help free up time spent on administration, it adds. 

NHS national director for transformation Dr Vin Diwakar said: “Better use of data is essential for the NHS to tackle waiting times, join up patient care and make the health service sustainable for the future.

“Patients come to the NHS at some of the most vulnerable points in their lives, and they want to know that our healthcare teams have access to the best possible information when it comes to their treatment and care.

“This new tool provides a safe and secure environment to bring together data, which enables us to develop and deliver more responsive services for patients and will help the health service drive the recovery in elective care.” 

Palantir CEO Alex Karp said: “There is no more important institution in the UK than the NHS and we are humbled to have now been chosen to provide that software across England to help bring down waiting lists, improve patient care and reduce health inequalities.

“It builds on our role supporting the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine and, more recently, helping individual NHS Trusts to schedule more operations.”

Following the award of the contract for the FDP this week, there will be a six-month implementation period where products supported by the current data platform will be transitioned across.

Digital Health News reported on 9 November that Palantir had been named the winner of the FDP contract following sign off by ministers, but NHS England insisted that the supplier process had not yet been completed at that point.