back to article NHS data platform procurement delayed for a second time

Competition for a "Federated Data Platform" (FDP) for the NHS in England has been delayed for a second time as details emerge of how Palantir – the US spy-tech biz hotly tipped to win the £360 million ($421 million) contract – has influenced the controversial procurement. Early supplier engagement over the FDP – which will …

  1. Ali Dodd
    Thumb Down

    stinks

    whole process is corrupt and disgusting. The proposal is weighted towards Palantir they may as well have written the spec(and probably did). Should be prison time for those involved but most likely we'll just roll over an let it happen (with some nice fat kickbacks) and the people of UK get screwed again.

    1. Alan Hope

      Re: stinks

      All public procurement is similarly tainted - it is built in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: stinks

        This is patent nonsense of the idiot school of "they're all the same". This procurement is egregious, in that it is deliberately violating every cabinet office procurement rule on the books and absolutely nobody has been able to explain why.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: stinks

        All public procurement is similarly tainted - it is built in.

        Actually, no it isn't. There are a lot of rules and checks-n-balances which should prevent issues like those described. The problem comes as things get bigger and more specialised - then you get problems where the choice of potential supplier gets smaller, potentially down to single suppliers*

        As the complexity goes up, so does the difficulty of ensuring that not only are things done properly, but also seen to be done properly.

        And, it has to be said that Civil Service pay constraints are a big part of the problem - you may guess that I'm posting AC as a CS. Where it seems that civil servants have whizzed through the revolving door and are no consultants with the very suppliers they were previously dealing with as a CS - a big part of the problem is that CS pay is ... staying polite ... "not competitive"**, especially for the sort of skills involved in tendering and procuring large complex systems. The (ever shrinking) "perks" of being a CS, and a pride in public service, only go so far when you have bills to pay and there's a private contractor waving the option of a massive pay rise under your nose.

        So next time you see/hear some politician slagging off CSs, bear in mind that the bunch breaking lockdown rules and partying at No 10 do not represent the majority of us who just carried on working while obeying the rules and getting thanked with a pay freeze followed by yet another below inflation rise.

        * For example, no point going out to competitive tendering to deliver a nuclear submarine as there's only one UK source with the capability. But, in cases like that, there is CAAS (Cost Assurance and Analysis Service) in the MoD who will go over stuff with a fine toothed comb to make sure the MoD is not being overcharged for anything.

        ** It may interest some to find that the lowest grades of CS actually got pay rises this year in order for their department to stay within the law in minimum wages. Not "the lowest grade", but I believe at least two grades were involved. But I believe they've had their hours altered "to align T&Cs" - which I've read will take them out of the minimum wage rules next year.

  2. Adair Silver badge

    Money trumps humanity

    For some people money (and power) are all that really matter. The human consequences of that psychopathic pursuit are simply collateral damage. Only worthy of notice if/when they start to negatively impact the accumulation of the money (and the power).

    Palantir, and their ilk, shouldn't even be allowed in the room - they certainly don't give a toss about the ethical/moral implications of their lust for profit and power.

    Parasites.

    1. Fogcat

      Re: Money trumps humanity

      Having just read MindF*ck by Christopher Wylie I would be VERY wary of Palantir. Although the book is about Cambridge Analytica Palantir always seems to be hovering just off page at key moments.

      Well worth a read, the headlines don't even scratch the surface of all the crap that CA got up to.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "For some people money (and power) are all that really matter"

    For those who succeed in acquiring wealth and/or power, that's certainly so, and inevitable given the intense competition that underpins "growth" economies. Consequently the most ruthless and self-seeking rise to the top and get to make the rules.

  4. VoiceOfTruth

    The Tories will sell this country to the USA

    We will be slaves.

  5. Gordon 10

    Tories gonna Tory....

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge

    the flagship Palantir user where Swindells is a chairman

    Blimey, he just pops up everywhere doesn't he? Must be just a massive coincidence how he's managed to get himself placed in roles at every part of the NHS structure where decisions to award money to Palantir have been or will be made, and I'm sure he won't be earning vast amounts of money personally once Palantir has got its claws embedded throughout the NHS. No he'll just be Swindell-ing the money out of taxpayers towards his data hoarding benefactors - if he's lucky he could go down as one of the greatest Swindells in NHS history, having given Thiel both our health data and vast sums of government cash.

    1. Al fazed
      Unhappy

      Re: the flagship Palantir user where Swindells is a chairman

      Tough second place goes to Geoffrey Swindell, caught after 20 years preying on female students and female members of staff as a sex pest ceramics tutor at Cardiff Art College, still producing pots.

      Must be the family name goes hand in hand with sick behaviour and mortal corruption .....

      ALF

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "next steps the UK should take in realising UK's life sciences vision."

    I have a next step : how about getting some work done ?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard large scale cod and chips procurement

    Very fishy and sounds like jobs for the boys as usual. I have heard of many other suppliers not even wanting to bid on this because they thought it was a stich up and will just be going to Palantir which doesn't introduce any fair competition to the process which is what it is there to do. An independent inquiry need to be held and this procurement delayed until the results are published. The findings I hope should be that an outside procurement team be utilised to run all NHSE/D/LMNOP procurements in the future so they can't be corrupted by the whiff of money. Palantir should also be fined or barred from the process for taking key staff from the NHS which as a result creates gaps in the teams they are trying to replace.

    Sounds like the expenses scandal all over again. Has anyone looked into Palantir's expenses to see how many people they have supported through out this process?

    1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      Re: Standard large scale cod and chips procurement

      Palantir should also be fined or barred from the process for taking key staff from the NHS which as a result creates gaps in the teams they are trying to replace.

      I've upvoted you, but that bit they can't be fined or otherwise penalised for. It would be illegal to restrain who someone chooses to work for - and the best we can do is the current rule (mentioned in the article) that senior civil servants cannot whizz through the revolving door without at least a 6 month break. I vaguely recall it's a bit more nuanced, in that it's OK to go and do something unrelated to your CS role - but absolutely not, as appears to have happened here if we look past the 6 months spent with an "independent" third party, to go from the CS side of a project to the industry side.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Matthew Swindells

    Swindell by name, swindle by nature. There should be an option to retain your National Insurance contributions in exchange for opting out of NHS services. Like the BBC, the NHS needs to be seriously defunded.

    1. Kane
      Coat

      Re: Matthew Swindells

      "Swindell by name, swindle by nature."

      Totally agree.

      "There should be an option to retain your National Insurance contributions in exchange for opting out of NHS services."

      No. No, that's not how this works at all.

      "Like the BBC, the NHS needs to be seriously defunded."

      Again, No. What needs to happen is a serious change in government and get those fucking toady, leeching, scum bucket, corrupt arseholes and their mates away from the trough and march them all down the well trodden corridors of steel towards their sausage-filling future.

      If you think defunding one of the most helpful social institutions this country has to offer to everyone, and I mean everyone, regardless of financial standing within UK society, then you are seriously deluded and I question your judgement on the entire affair.

      Fuck off back to Farageland with you; Here, your coat, go on, thataway...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Matthew Swindells

        If you think defunding one of the most helpful social institutions this country has to offer to everyone, and I mean everyone, regardless of financial standing within UK society, then you are seriously deluded and I question your judgement on the entire affair.

        Spoken like a true zealot totally brainwashed by the NHS religion. You people will swear blind that the NHS is the best thing since sliced bread, even while your loved ones die waiting 12 hours for an ambulance to show up.

        Oh the wonderful NHS where GPs earn six figures working 3 day weeks over Zoom, because COVID.

        Literally hundreds of layers of useless middle management and associated pen pushers that helps propel the NHS 8th on the list of the largest employers in the world.

        Awful health outcomes on an annual budget of 12% of GDP, higher than the far superior French and German systems.

        What you lot fail to grasp is the NHS is a 1940s institution that is now hopelessly outdated and completely unfit for purpose. Fortunately, the public backlash is eventually going to be so brutal that the NHS will receive its long overdue root and branch overhaul.

        Good riddance to the tax payer funded parasites and their cheerleaders!

    2. Al fazed
      Mushroom

      Re: Matthew Swindells

      They are all corrupt swindelling bastards, the politicos have been seriously under funding the NHS before COVID, since COVID they already sold the Health provider at the lowest price to the lowest moral scumbags on the planet.

      Why are we even discussing this sordid shite.

      ALF

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "NHS England has insisted competition for the contract would be fair and open."

    Fair and open my arse. One of the "requirements" for the FDP Procurement 1 is for whoever wins the tender to continue the capabilities already in-place or migrate them to the new platform. This represents an obvious and enormous advantage for Palantir, who obviously don't have to spend a penny to move anything.

    For anyone else involved they're faced with the prospect of migrating from a platform delivered in secret by a vendor who don't integrate with anyone else on the market and don't follow any open standards. This is one of the huge reasons Government normally never contracts for delivery from the software vendor - it makes it impossible to re-bid the project later down the line. This normal requirement was ignored during Covid.

    I put "requirements" in quotes up there because as of yet this hasn't actually been put on paper. So far all we've got on this topic is a 20-word response to a question raised during a supplier briefing. Full requirements will apparently follow during the invitation to tender! The whole process has been riddled with shit like this - obviously biased requirements delivered through 30-minute webinars and powerpoints, forcing the interested parties to do shitloads of legwork to divine the intent.

    This whole programme needs putting in the bin. It's corrupt, it's wildly overpriced and it's going to be a total fucking disaster.

  11. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    So...

    Matthew Swindells swindles?

  12. Alan Hope

    Scratch the surface of any large UK public procurement and the phrase "US Hedge Fund" is found.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Of Palantir's institutional shareholders, only Renaissance are a hedge fund, and they own the princely sum of.... 1% of the company.

  13. MikeLivingstone
    Alert

    Thérèse Coffey needs to follow Jacob Rees-Mogg's example and ban Palantir like he banned Bain.

    1. monty75

      Nobody should follow Jacob Rees-Mogg’s example unless they’re dressing for an 18th century cosplay event.

    2. Al fazed
      Thumb Up

      Jacob Reece Mog is another fat Tory pig that needs to be kept away from the UK trough,

      ALF

  14. Al fazed
    Boffin

    Surely this has nothing to do with IT ?

    ALF

  15. h3nb45h3r

    I'm just thankful...

    ...That Fujitsu haven't been given the opportunity to bugger it up

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Christ I’m glad I don’t work in the NHS any more. People like Swindells in the upper echelons make it totally soul-destroying.

    This sort of thing has been going on since forever with PPI, NPfIT, NHSX etc etc. They’re all at it one way or another; can’t even just blame the Tories.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    language lessons

    American English: influence a decision maker

    All other English versions: bribe a decision maker

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