KPMG bags £8.5M NHS gig as cheerleader for Federated Data Platform rollout

Consultancy tasked with helping local services get on board

The UK's health department has awarded global consultancy KPMG an £8.5 million ($10.5 million) contract to help implement the controversial Federated Data Platform (FDP) at a local level.

NHS England, an executive non-departmental public body, has awarded the deal "for technical support and implementation services" to help Integrated Care Boards (ICB) and NHS trusts – such as hospitals – in England to implement the FDP software. ICBs help manage care across health services on a local basis.

In November last year, NHS England awarded a £330 million ($410 million) contract for the FDP to US spy-tech company Palantir after series of contracts totaling £60 million ($75 million) were awarded to the vendor without competition during and shortly after the pandemic. The FDP is designed to employ business intelligence and analytics to help the NHS recover from a huge backlog in care resulting from the COVID-19 emergency.

According to a procurement contract notice, KPMG "will support the NHSE Data Services team to not only build the Federated Data Platform (FDP) capability, but enhance the Data Service functions, platforms and integrating services to support the transformation change."

It will also "support ICBs and Trusts in implementing their individual federated platforms, which will in turn feed into the national model." The contract was awarded via a "call-off" from an existing framework agreement.

Within the questionnaire for selecting the supplier – revealed in the heavily redacted contract – NHS England asks the prospective supplier how they would approach "supporting the development of an appropriate business change strategy to promote adoption of FDP."

NHS England has said the FDP would "make it easier for staff at NHS trusts and ICS (integrated care systems) to access the information they need, freeing up valuable time to reinvest in delivering the best care possible for patients." It said in the future the platform would also help "understand patterns, solve problems, and plan services for their local populations."

Yet NHS England still requires KPMG to "promote" the service further.

This might be explained by a degree of unwillingness to back the FDP at a regional and local level. In October, 14 directors from organizations signed up to FDP pilots signed an NHS England open letter supporting FDP. But according to Digital Health News, only about half of ICB chief officers were willing to add their names to a similar letter.

Meanwhile, the FDP remains a controversial project to the public. It could be set to face two legal challenges over its openness and the lawful basis for collecting patient data.

NHS England has disputed the claims, but KPMG may yet have its work cut out for it. ®

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