The supply contract has been awarded to software company Palantir Technologies UK and will see up to £330 million in investment over the seven-year contract period.

The NHS will introduce a new platform in spring 2024 to enhance patient care, reduce waiting times, and expedite hospital discharge procedures. The Federated Data Platform (FDP) will consolidate existing NHS data, enabling healthcare professionals to access critical information more readily, resulting in improved and timelier patient care.

This new platform will integrate key data currently held in disparate NHS systems, addressing some of the healthcare system’s post-pandemic challenges. By aggregating real-time data, such as hospital bed availability, elective waiting list sizes, staff schedules, medical supply inventories, and social care placements, healthcare professionals can optimise resource allocation, including operating theatre and outpatient clinic utilisation, to ensure patients receive timely care.

Palantir Technologies UK, supported by Accenture, PwC, NECS, and Carnall Farrar, was awarded the software supply contract following an open and competitive tender process. The contract will entail a seven-year investment period as more trusts adopt the platform. The initial contract year is expected to see an investment of at least £25.6 million, with total investment over the seven-year contract period reaching up to £330 million for the FDP and associated services. Following the award of the contract for the FDP this week, there will be a six-month implementation period where products supported by the current platform will be transitioned across.

Data access within the FDP is strictly controlled by the NHS, requiring explicit permission for any company involved in the platform. Data usage within the platform is solely for direct care and planning purposes. It will not be utilised for research purposes, and GP data will not be incorporated into the national version of the software platform.

Pilot projects utilising the new data-sharing approach have demonstrated reduced waiting times for planned care and discharge delays, as well as faster diagnosis and treatment times. Since implementing the system, North Tees and Hartlepool Trust has reduced long-term stays (21 days or more) by 36 per cent despite increased demand, with a 7.7 per cent increase in hospital admissions.

NHS National Director for Transformation, Dr Vin Diwakar, said: “Better use of data is essential for the NHS to tackle waiting times, join up patient care and make the health service sustainable for the future. Patients come to the NHS at some of the most vulnerable points in their lives, and they want to know that our healthcare teams have access to the best possible information when it comes to their treatment and care.

“This new tool provides a safe and secure environment to bring together data, which enables us to develop and deliver more responsive services for patients and will help the health service drive the recovery in elective care.”

Palantir CEO Alex Karp said: “This award is the culmination of 20 years of developing software that enables complex, sensitive data to be integrated in a way that protects security, respects privacy and puts the customer in full control.

“There is no more important institution in the UK than the NHS and we are humbled to have now been chosen to provide that software across England to help bring down waiting lists, improve patient care and reduce health inequalities.

“It builds on our role supporting the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine and, more recently, helping individual NHS Trusts to schedule more operations.”

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, commented: “Health leaders will welcome the introduction of the Federated Data Platform as an important tool to help organisations across the NHS more rapidly connect and access data, free up vital clinical time and deliver more efficient, faster and safe care for patients.

“For the platform to succeed, it will also be crucial that the public continue to be engaged with, and that any concerns they have on the sharing of their data are addressed meaningfully. Likewise, Government and the wider NHS will need to ensure that there are adequate numbers of staff working in digital and patient data roles.

“We hope the new platform will offer much needed capacity for many Integrated Care Systems and for those systems that have already built their own effective platforms, we welcome both the assurance that they will be able to decide if and when to opt into it, and that they will continue to be supported.”