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Palantir’s software to be rolled out across 30 NHS trusts

One group said the move presents a "serious danger to public trust in the health service"

Palantir is set to roll out its software across the NHS after implementing a trial at a London hospital, causing one group to call the move a "serious danger to public trust in the health service".

The US company has been trialling its data processing technology at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and now around 30 trusts have signed up to a more extensive national pilot, although the final number is still being decided.

At Chelsea and Westminster hospital, the company has brought together disparate information, such as the total number of patients waiting by clinician, theatre scheduling, and staff rostering and makes it available on a single platform.

The platform aims to help clinicians, schedulers, and operational staff see real-time information to help them make quick and efficient decisions on prioritising patients waiting for treatment or optimising theatre capacity to ensure more patients can be treated.

Palantir stated that so far it has helped enable a 28% reduction in the inpatient waiting list through validation and better clinical oversight. It also tripled booking lead times so that patients can be notified to come for surgery in a timelier manner, reducing the number of cancellations.

The company underlined that trusts always retain complete control over their data, use state-of-the-art privacy techniques to protect patients, and ensure access is limited to only the clinicians and staff deemed absolutely necessary.

“We are proud to be able to support NHS England and the wider Elective Recovery Plan,” said Louis Mosley, head of Palantir UK, in a statement given to IT Pro. “Palantir’s software helped to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine programme and is now assisting NHS staff in reducing the backlog and delivering the highest standards of patient care.”

Foxglove director Cori Crider said that Palantir is a business with a horrible track record, claiming it works in secret military operations, enables governments to spy on their own people, and helped former US president Donald Trump to tear apart vulnerable families in the US.

“This shady, brutal company slunk into our NHS through the back door during the pandemic and has racked up no-bid multi-million-pound contracts managing the biggest pool of health data in NHS history," said Crider. “But they haven’t changed. Just last year, Palantir said it wants to be ‘inside every missile, inside every drone’. Now, in 30 NHS hospitals, they will be inside every bed, every bandage and every needle. That presents a serious danger to public trust in the health service. And without public trust, there is no public health.”

The US firm made £22 million in profit in 2020 following a controversial deal with the NHS, it was revealed last August. The company had been awarded over £46 million in public contracts by the UK government since the start of 2020, claimed openDemocracy. 

openDemocracy has suggested that Palantir is a “secretive” company, seeking “unprecedented” access to NHS patient data, leading it to attempt to sue the UK government and claiming it forced it to commit to not extend Palantir’s contract beyond the pandemic without a consultation.

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