US spy data company Palantir has snout in NHS diagnostics hubs trough

Thanks to Global Counsel – a consultancy company set up and chaired by former New Labour Minister Peter Mandelson, US spy data tech company Palantir seems to have its snout in the public/private NHS diagnostics hubs trough – a subject which NHS Matters recently investigated.

Palantir is a client of Global Counsel, whose “Senior Adviser” Matthew Swindells only recently quit his job as deputy CEO of NHS England.

Swindells was on hand at a November 2021 Global Counsel panel discussion of “the role of diagnostics in the NHS recovery and how reform could revolutionise the patient experience compared to the pre-pandemic era.”

One strand of the discussion was ‘How data and technology can enhance the diagnostics supply chain to better meet demand.’

In its efforts to influence and win the controversial procurement of a new £360 million ($421 million) NHS federated data platform contract, the US spy tech data firm Palantir appears to have hired Swindells by proxy, via his position at Global Counsel.

According to a report in The Register,

“The [Global Counsel] association with Palantir was such that Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the flagship Palantir user where Swindells is a chairman, said he would be excluded from ‘any decision making in relation to Palantir.’ “

NHS Confederation is in bed with Palantir

Palantir also has other ways of getting its feet well under the NHS table, thanks at least in part to the NHS Confederation and Professor Chris Ham, a long-time promoter of “the import of US market-focussed solutions” into the NHS.

Chris Ham’s recent report for the NHS Confederation on ‘Governing the health and care system in England’ (a report which was “supported by Palantir”) looked at creating the conditions for success for Integrated Care Systems. A key point in the report referred to Palantir’s Foundry tool, and attributed the success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to it:

“The power of data has been demonstrated in the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, where expertise from the public and private sectors was used to ensure effective delivery at scale and pace. Data from many sources were integrated into a tool known as Foundry to create a single view of what was happening available at every level . The programme offers a model for population health management that can be adapted in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other conditions. Integrated data enables understanding of differences in the populations served, identification of groups at risk, and targeted support at those most in need. This requires close working between public health teams and clinicians as well as the involvement of community organisations.”

Palantir aims to first shape, then win the £360m NHS federated data platform contract

In July 2022 the NHS Confederation presented a follow-up webinar, funded by Palantir. The webinar

“examined data and information governance strategies ICSs can adopt to deliver joined-up care, tackle issues of equality and access, and improve planning and performance.” 

Palantir’s interest in supporting the report and follow-up webinar was to push the requirement for

“an integrated data foundation that enables insight into differences within populations served, identification of groups at risk and targeted support for those most in need.”

NHS England is procuring a £360m NHS federated data platform contract that Palantir is desperate to both shape and win.

However, Phil Booth of Medconfidential advocates that the NHS should get rid of Palantir and build its own open-source software, as recommended by the April 2022 Goldacre Review for the Department of Health and Social Care. On 1 October 2022 Phil Booth tweeted,

“For avoidance of doubt on “#OpenSource”, I’m not simply ‘hand-waving’. It’s a key recommendation of the #GoldacreReview, i.e. that the NHS should be investing in #people and #teams, creating #code and #platforms based on modern, #open working practices…”

“…and before anyone scoffs “It can’t be done”, IT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE – by Ben and the team at @OpenSAFELY, who built a platform used for vital, large-scale research on #COVID: https://opensafely.org/approved-projects/… OS could be used for other things, but @NHSEngland wants @PalantirTech

The NHS Confederation wasn’t bothered and continues to partner with Palantir. At the July 2022 Palantir and NHS Confederation webinar, speakers included Matthew Swindells (with his Chair of NW London Acute Hospitals hat on), and Tom McArdle, one of Palantir’s two UK Health Leads.

Tom Macardle was also a speaker at the NHS Confederation Expo in June 2022.According to the NHS Confederation Expo blurb,

“At the NHS, Tom has overseen the deployment of the Foundry platform for supply chain optimisation from ventilators and PPE to the vaccination programme. He now focuses on national programmes and local channel partner engagements.”

  • More about the insinuation of Foundry/Palantir into the NHS under cover of Covid here.
  • There is more information about Swindells, the revolving door between US corporations and the NHS, and Palantir here.

5 comments

  1. Again, another excellent report by Jenny Green. Unfortunately, the NHS will likely (or has already) experience(d) what has happened to both the US public and private systems. All things “medical” have been taken over by the tech industry, in fact, it is one of the main players at every table. For example, home community based services for the homebound poor and disabled (billion dollar market) are now in mandatory surveillance in order for their caregivers to get paid. It’s called “Electronic Visit Verification”, but is in fact a geo tracking product which includes a rigid login system detailing each task, time, and location. No more independence for the poor disabled, if they ever had any under the “welfare” state. The only other system that treats people like this is in the prison industry’s home confinement program.
    And then there is the huge EHR and EMR tech industry where you don’t know if what’s in your tech based medical records will kill you–or not. https://khn.org/news/death-by-a-thousand-clicks/
    The medical industrial complex is used by the tech industry to assist their buddies in the insurance and government agencies to manufacture categories, attribute people based on value based payments, creating incentives for the “provider”/ practitioner to lemon drop sick patients and cherry pick healthier ones. Or, it will upcode when it needs to milk more money out of the system for profit. They whole thing is a horrible, corrupt mess where corporations (both for profit and non profit), government agencies, and non profit ngo’s are all feeding out of the same trough for not only dollars but to maintain their careers, and the people suffer, especially the working class, the poor disabled, and elderly who have very little resources to buffer them or pay for any other alternatives.

    Liked by 1 person

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