Wes Streeting slams ‘glacial’ pace of FDP adoption

  • 19 June 2024
Wes Streeting slams ‘glacial’ pace of FDP adoption
Image provided by Tammy Lovell

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has criticised the “glacial” pace of adoption of the NHS Federated Data Platform (FDP) and suggested that Labour would deliver “a more effective culture of innovation”.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Medical Journalists’ Association on 17 June, Streeting said there was “benefit in doing things more centrally” in terms of procurement and cited the FDP rollout as “a very good example of what happens when you are too permissive”.

NHS England awarded a £330 million contract to operate the FDP to US data analytics giant Palantir in November 2023, with a further contract awarded to KPMG in March 2024 to promote the adoption.

There are 44 pilot sites planned to transition to local instances of the platform before July 2024, with the intention of enabling NHS organisations to integrate operational data from separate systems in one secure environment.

Referring to the FDP, Streeting said: “I think the pace of adoption is pretty glacial if I’m honest, for something that’s costing a significant amount of taxpayer money, and is of vital national strategic importance as a project.

“I’ve been pretty stunned by when I’ve spoken to trusts about why the take up isn’t as good as it could be”.

He added that it was “fair enough” if NHS trusts had legacy systems that needed to be updated before they could adopt the FDP.

“But when I’ve heard people say ‘I’m not sure about Palantir’, or ‘I’m not sure that the NHS has a really good track record on this sort of project’, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t wash with me.

“There’s been a national decision taken with significant investment of public money. This is of vital importance to patients. Go further, faster,” Streeting said.

He added that the NHS needs “a more effective culture of innovation” around data.

“Patients ultimately care about two things: Is my data being held securely and is it being used ethically,” he said.

The awarding of the FDP contract to Palantir caused controversy because of issues with the procurement process and concerns about the company’s ethics.

In February 2024, the Good Law Project announced that it had taken legal action over NHSE’s heavily redacted contract with the US firm.

Speaking about the importance of integrated healthcare systems, Streeting said that patients were surprised if they went to an emergency department to find that “the people treating them don’t have a full account of their patient record”.

“That’s the potential here in terms of data. It’s making sure that patients get the very best personalised care,” he said.

Streeting also referenced plans in the Labour manifesto to transform the NHS App, which he said should be used to alert patients with type O blood to help with shortages caused by the cyber attack on pathology system provider Synnovis in June 2024.

“Not trusting patients with basic information backfires on the NHS.

“The app should not only provide this information, it should be pinging patients with relevant blood types inviting them to come forward,” he said.

In an opinion piece, Jon Hoeksma, chief executive of Digital Health, has outlined his views on the digital choices facing Streeting.

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4 Comments

  • Interesting conflict in opinions – I’m not surprised that Palantir and the NHS say it’s fantastic – what else could they say? I suspect the truth may be nearer to Joe’s perspective. How is anyone to know the truth?

  • I saw what has been done with the FDP artificial intelligence capability today and it is amazing. NHS data people are going to love it!

  • As we know, things that are adopted by the NHS have to pass the three U’s test. Useful, Usable and Used. FDP fails on all three and we told NHSE it would. Wes Streeting is going to need better advice.

    • Actually, Palantir and the NHS have published results that are contrary to Joe McDonald’s comment for all 3 U’s. They’ve proved useful, usable, and used in lowering average cancer patient diagnosis days, surgical theater wait times, as well as cleaning up the wait list of 10s of thousands of patients thereby reducing the backlog and allowing the opportunity to catch up.

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