The £360m NHS England data platform, a project that will see personal medical data fed into one of the largest healthcare data platforms on the globe, is set to launch and will not require the consent of new patients.
The contract is likely to be awarded to Palantir, a firm chaired by Peter Thiel, one of the largest donors to the Republican Party. Palantir has previously won NHS contracts. The first contract was worth £1 ($1.18), but the company went on to win another contract in December 2020 to provide the NHS with real-time data on the prevalence of the virus and vaccinations.
Ministers have said that the patient data platform does not require public consultation before a private firm is awarded a five-year contract. The government insists that the project, dubbed a “federated data platform,” will improve healthcare and help with analysis into the health of the country. Some officials claim that the project will “reduce waiting times, speed up diagnosis and get people home quicker,” The Guardian reports.
The information that will be available via the platform include names, address, date of birth, medications, medical notes, health conditions, safeguarding information, and social care. For use for research purposes and insights to improve care, the data will be “de-identified.”
Other safeguards include the medical records not being stored in a central database. The government said data will be transferred from datasets that already exist and have “a lawful basis for collection and processing.”
“Only people with a need to access patient identifiable information in a shared care record will be able to access information pulled from the record for use in the platform,” a government official said.
Critics have warned that the government is risking undermining public trust by providing a private contractor with medical records without proper consultation. They insist that the public has a legal right to say.