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UK’s National Health Service is debating partnership with data company Palantir

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NHS England’s competition for the Federated Data Platform (FDP) contract has been delayed a second time, according to The Register. US-based spy technology company Palantir has been strongly tied with winning the £360 million ($421 million) contract.

A tender notice for the contract said that formal competition would begin in June. But in August officials said that the date was postponed to September 6. The deadline appears to have been missed again, and is awaiting the approval of the new minster for health Thérèse Coffey.

Although NHS England said that competition for the contract would be free and fair, it has been closely tied to Palantir.

Work on the FDP began in December 2020, and Palantir was awarded a £23 million ($27 million) project to continue working on the database without competition from other contractors. The project was halted in March 2021 following a threat of a judicial review.

Now, according to The Register, FDP’s contract, now valued at £360 million ($421 million), is a “must win” for Palantir.

Already, the company has hired key figures from NHS England’s AI and data science teams, including Harjeet Dhaliwal and Indra Joshi. It has also hired Matthew Swindells, who was the national director for operations and information at NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I). These hires appear to be an attempt to influence the use of Palantir technology in the NHS.

NHS data strategy states: “We are looking to develop a federated data platform which will be a system of connected platforms, placed in, and ultimately determined by, individual NHS organizations.”

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