UK consortium bid for NHS data platform falls at first hurdle

Vows to regroup and come back stronger after failing in bid Palantir is pipped to win

A UK consortium bid for the NHS Federated Data Platform — an ongoing competition worth up to £480 million ($595 million) — has fallen at the first hurdle.

According to the Health Service Journal, the consortium — which included Voror Health Technologies, Eclipse and Black Pear — was told it had not passed the first stage of the tender process by NHS England, the government’s non-departmental public body responsible for running the NHS, one of the world’s largest health providers.

Voror CEO Shane Tickell later tweeted that the company was “grateful to the FDP process as it has brought together several of us to consider the needs of the country as a whole. Today we are already addressing many needs of the FDP, but with a more collaborative approach we can deliver far greater value as an open community.

“For us this isn’t the end of a process, it’s the beginning of a new one, we look to announce our intentions in the summer,” he said.

In February, the Financial Times said 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.

However, US spy-tech firm Palantir sees the contract as a “must-win” and is considered a clear favorite given that is already built the NHS Covid-data store under a series of contracts arranged without external competition. Functionality from the existing data store, and another project it supports called Faster Data Flows, are set to be replicated on the FDP.

In March, campaign groups acting on behalf of doctors and patients threatened legal action over the FDP, as questions about patient consultation and compliance with data protection law remain unanswered.

Lawyers acting on behalf of The Doctors’ Association UK, National Pensioners’ Convention, and Just Treatment have also questioned whether plans for the platform — as currently described in tender documents — could lead to tech giants such as Amazon and Google creating fitness apps to sell back to the NHS for “the public good.”

The formal procurement for the FDP was launched in January after a series of delays. The government sees the repository as vital to the health system's post-Covid recovery and reform to the NHS. It promises it will be a data store for NHS operational and population health analytics. ®

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