Nationwide Knowledge Guardian weighs in on FDP as NHSE prepares tender award

Nationwide Knowledge Guardian for Well being and Social Care Nicola Byrne has warned NHS England that it should be sure that it’s absolutely clear with the general public in regards to the goals and due diligence concerned within the tender course of for the Federated Knowledge Platform (FDP) or danger undermining public help for the challenge. 

In a pointed weblog submit forward of the approaching announcement of the winner of the profitable bidder for the contract to function the platform, Byrne famous that public considerations in regards to the FDP procurement course of have been rising. She highlighted particularly “contentious” dialogue across the perceived frontrunner to win the £480 million tender, US information analytics big Palantir. 

Acknowledging the truth that “business curiosity in, and proximity to, NHS information usually makes for an uneasy dialog”, Byrne noticed that analysis reveals it’s attainable to carry the general public together with business involvement so long as sure situations are met.

These embrace a dedication to “genuine communications, engagement, and transparency”; clear rationale for business involvement; proof that the exterior organisation is reliable and that there’s a demonstrable public profit to society and the NHS; public advantages that outweigh the business profit; and “sufficient safeguards in opposition to improper use.” 

A scarcity of belief can result in a data hole, she warned, including that “on this hole, different narratives can take maintain, changing into a breeding floor for hypothesis, misinformation and discontent.” 

Classes discovered from the implementation of earlier initiatives, such because the Normal Apply for Knowledge for Planning and Analysis (GPDPR), and the Nationwide Programme for IT, underscore the centrality of partaking successfully with the general public and professionals to take care of belief in how the NHS handles folks’s information, Byrne added. 

Byrne acknowledged that NHSE had supplied her with a “high-level” plan for communications within the final week, and that the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) had additionally been commissioned to ship an engagement challenge.

“These plans come later than I might have appreciated, however they’re a begin, and a step in the fitting course, and I hope they will start to carry extra steadiness and views to the general public discourse,” she stated.

A controversial procurement 

Campaigners for equitable entry to know-how have argued that NHSE has insufficiently thought out its proposed FDP and dangers endangering the security and confidentiality of the non-public information of thousands and thousands of sufferers by entrusting it to a business associate that might be largely considering monetising the information at a later level. 

Many have criticised the procurement course of itself, arguing that Palantir was left with a transparent benefit as a result of its preliminary provide throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to assist the federal government handle Covid information for gratis.

Additionally they argued Palantir’s work with intelligence and safety providers within the U.S. made it a questionable selection for managing NHS England’s trove of non-public well being information. 

NHSE’s resolution in June to award Palantir a 12-month contract value £25 million to “transition” its present tasks with the well being service to the brand new Federated Knowledge Platform (FDP) provider exacerbated the considerations of many who the FDP tender was not clear. 

In a weblog submit in November, Byrne appeared to offer an implicit warning in regards to the anticipated award of the FDP contract to Palantir when she suggested nationwide policymakers that they need to guarantee key suppliers share NHS core values.

Though she was extra muted in her feedback on Thursday, she however warned the federal government to tread fastidiously. 

“Individuals have sturdy opinions in regards to the involvement of know-how giants within the NHS extra broadly, with considerations about business propriety, ethics and motivation usually expressed. Due to this, a real dedication to transparency is essential, particularly because the contract might be awarded in opposition to the backdrop of the COVID-19 inquiry,” Byrne stated.

“Fairly rightly, the general public highlight is firmly skilled on how procurement choices are being made in well being and care. Individuals need to know who’s receiving public cash and on what phrases.” 

Making the strongest case for the FDP 

Byrne beneficial three key duties for the federal government with the intention to improve public belief within the FDP because it ready to announce the outcomes of the procurement course of: exhibiting the doubtless, slightly than hoped for, worth to sufferers and the NHS; demonstrating the integrity of its decision-making course of; and offering “credible assurance in regards to the relationship with the provider.” 

As a part of this course of, she stated, NHSE might want to articulate clearly, amongst different issues, the aim and scope of the programme, the character of every use case and the way the nationwide information opt-out will work.  

It might want to spell out what suppliers and ICSs anticipate from the FDP and the issues the FDP will purpose to unravel for these coordinating and delivering care in real-time.

Furthermore, NHSE might want to deal with the considerations of those that fear the NHS will discover itself locked right into a relationship with a selected vendor, guaranteeing it might probably terminate the partnership “as and when obligatory, with out compromising affected person care or incurring vital prices”. 

Byrne acknowledged that NHSE had supplied her with a “high-level” plan for communications within the final week, and knowledgeable her that the Skilled Report Requirements Physique (PRSB) had additionally been commissioned to ship an engagement challenge.

“This programme’s intentions are good, and I don’t want the general public discourse round it to develop into a polarised battleground,” Byrne stated.

“However to keep away from this, NHS England should deal with the data hole: constructing bridges between the programme, the general public and professionals on the bottom. And it will contain listening, studying, and evolving the programme and its communications because it does so.”