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UK consortium set to bid for £480 million NHS data platform

Syndicate wants to see health service 'stay in control' in face of fierce competition from Palantir

The contentious procurement of the UK health service's £480 million ($580 million) Federated Data Platform (FDP) – which US spy-tech firm Palantir is tipped to win – has seen a new competitor enter the fray in the form of a UK consortium of vendors.

According to the Financial Times, Voror Health Technologies, Eclipse and Black Pear are among consortium members promising to undercut the US bidder for the scheme, which aims to improve efficiency and reduce care backlogs in one of the world's largest and most complex healthcare organizations.

The consortium hopes to take on Palantir, which is said to have made the lucrative project a "must-win," and – critics fear – may have an unfair advantage as its data system supported the NHS during the pandemic under a £23 million ($28 million) contract.

Julian Brown, chief executive of Eclipse, told the FT: "We know that the NHS is a very complex system, and different from other healthcare systems around the world, particularly in terms of its meticulous protection of patient data. We were very keen that the NHS stays in control of the data ... and to reinvest the revenue in frontline NHS services."

Eclipse says it has built an IT platform to help avoid hospital admissions through analysis of patient data. Voror develops the open source Health Information Model, which is designed to combine common ontology (medical and disease terminologies), a common logical data model, a collection of code medical sets, and a collection of queries. Black Pear is a developer of smartphone apps and data services in the NHS.

Despite the consortium's companies having deep roots in the NHS, they may have their work cut out beating Palantir and other US vendors to the FDP prize. In November last year, The Register revealed how services provided by Palantir – which began in the COVID-19 emergency – would become part of the new FDP. Later, a Parliamentary answer confirmed Palantir dashboards might need to be transferred to the FDP.

The FT said that Oracle Cerner and IBM are also set to bid for the FDP contract, which has attracted widespread criticism among patients, privacy campaigners and medical groups.

Since Big Red's $28 billion acquisition of Cerner in June, it has inked an £85 million ($103 million), 10-year deal with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. ®

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