NHS England has confirmed it will republish its patient data contracts with Palantir and IQVIA with fewer redactions, following legal action by Good Law Project.

NHSE published a heavily redacted contract with Palantir to run the Federated Data Platform (FDP) just before Christmas, with 417 of its 586 pages completely blanked out. Three-quarters of biotech firm IQVIA’s contract with NHSE to provide “Privacy Enhancing Technology” – to be used with Palantir’s FDP – is also hidden under entire page redactions.

In response to a legal letter sent by Good Law Project challenging the lawfulness of these redactions and how they were applied, NHSE has now confirmed it is reviewing both contracts and will aim to republish them within “two weeks”, but with “no firm deadline”.

As part of this, NHSE has committed to unveil the previously blanked out section in its contract with Palantir which covers the “protection of personal data”.

Good Law Project will scrutinise the contracts once they are released and will be prepared to take further legal action where needed. This comes as it is preparing to launch a separate legal challenge against NHSE over how patient data is handled through the National Data Opt-Out programme and in line with General Data Protection Regulation.

Good Law Project legal manager, Ian Browne, said: ““With millions of sensitive patient records on the table with private companies, we’ve been alarmed at the lack of openness around the terms of NHS England’s contracts with Palantir and IQVIA.

“Ahead of the upcoming launch of the Federated Data Platform, we’ll continue to keep the pressure on NHSE to deliver the high standards of transparency the public deserves.

“When the contracts are republished, the devil will be in the details. And – if necessary – we’ll be poised to use the law where political scrutiny and oversight has failed.”

NHSE’s response to Good Law Project’s pre-action protocol letter criticises the legal approach that has been taken and claims it had already planned to issue versions of the contracts with fewer redactions.

However, until now, NHSE has failed to commit to removing some of the redactions from the contracts. The last public update was issued in early January, when an NHSE spokesperson told Digital Health News that, in relation to the Palantir contract, it would “continue to work on final redactions and additional parts of the contract may be made available, if appropriate”.

Good Law Project initiated legal proceedings to argue that the scale of the redactions and the way they have been applied by NHSE in both the Palantir and IQVIA contracts were unlawful.