back to article NHS England Palantir contract extension could result in further legal threats

Campaigners have warned publicly funded healthcare system NHS England that extending its contract with Palantir without meaningful consultation with patients could lead to a challenge in court. Following the quango's decision to extend its controversial contract with the US spy-tech firm by six months – and £11.5 million ($13. …

  1. Roj Blake Silver badge

    "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

    NHS staff already understand their waiting lists.

    It doesn't take a genius to understand that waiting lists are at an all-time high because there aren't enough people to do the job.

    1. OhForF' Silver badge

      Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

      Yes, exactly. What is the point of real-time data if the only option to react in real-time is starting triage as all "human resources" are already working at their limit?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

      No. waiting lists are at an all-time high because the NHS is, in essence, an incompetent basket case where pretty much nothing is fit for purpose - staff training, organisation, management, governance, responsibility - nothing. I'm fed up with shouts of MORE MONEY MORE MONEY!! When the NHS does a decent job it hailed as some shining beacon, but when it's rubbish, it's because 'successive Tory Governments have underfunded it' which isn't true. We keep throwing money at the NHS and see no improvement. For the billions being spent now, how is it possible that A&E services are as dire as they are? Why is it not the fault of the all-hailed NHS for once? When will we see some responsibility for the spend of our money?

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

        The last time there was a non-Conservative government waiting lists disappeared.

        Funny, that.

        -A.

        1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

          Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

          Disappeared in reality, or disappeared in the stats ?

          Genuine questions as there are known to be ways (and not to the patient's benefit) of fudging the waiting lists stats.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

          What are you talking about? I appreciate you might struggle with things not written in crayon but check out the pretty coloured picture here: https://ifs.org.uk/collections/nhs-waiting-lists

          Then, using your mind, figure out which bits are associated with a 'non-Conservative' government from here:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_governments

          Jesus, 3 people up-voted your absolute making up of lies. Shows how easily people are misled.

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

            I lived through it. Don't patronise me, sonny.

            Have some charts back. Note especially the ones that drop to zero during the last non-Conservative government.

            https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/nhs-waiting-times#appendix-a

            -A.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

              I wasn't patronising you Grandad, I was insulting you. Why? Because you are stupid, ill-informed and wilfully spreading lies (or can’t read a table correctly). The link I gave showed the NHS England waiting list statistics back to 2007. They are NOT zero as you stated. What you’ve provided is a random web-site and no-where on it does it say waiting times fell to zero. Oh, unless you’ve been an idiot (to be fair Grandad, I suspect dementia – rapid onset by the sound of it) and mis-interpreted the graph which shows only waiting times of above 13+ weeks falling to zero and excludes all the others.

              Now, being a whippersnapper I asked an elder why this happened and they said there was wide-spread gaming of the stats - as long as a patient was ‘seen’ then they’d drop off the 13+ week list. They might have to wait another 26+ weeks after the initial consultation but that’s a stat for another day. That gaming goes on this very day by the way.

              Whilst explaining this, Papa AC also told me about things like Agenda for Change (I’m sure you remember that – if not, get them to up your dose) where Labour threw billions at wages (because they’re as stupid as you and seem to equate ‘Nurses pay’ with the quality of care) and got next to sod all in return. I’d dig out some stats for you but those werthers originals wont suck themselves and besides, Hattie Jacques is playing that kind of nurse you like on C5.

              I’ll get your blanket Grandad – try not to wet it this time, eh?

              1. captain veg Silver badge

                Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

                Thanks anonymous.

                I'm sure your parents are really proud of you.

                -A.

              2. gandalfcn Silver badge

                Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

                "I wasn't patronising you Grandad, I was insulting you" So you don't understand English either

        3. MrGreen

          Re: "Better understand their waiting lists and pressures in near real-time"

          And so did all of the UK’s money!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Data is king"

    I gave a presentation about this sort of thing 30 years ago, to a company I worked for back then, about the then "brand new" internet...

    I warned them that in the near future, "data" (in all it's forms, such as address lists, films, music etc) would be the one thing that could be both monetised as well as being "stored and compared" by companies who could compile other related data together into a "treasure trove" that would have "worth" and hence any data (especially "copyrighted material") would be a financial asset that could be sold and resold multiple times without the owner company losing any of the tangible part of the asset.

    Over the last 30 years, that is what has happened...companies are buying up copyrighted material (ie Bruce Springsteens "rights" to his back catalogue or Disney buying up fllm production companies who own blockbuster films and then selling viewing rights to consumers for $9.99/month) and hence they are (almost) guaranteeing income streams well into the future - even in 100 years time.

    The NHS data store is yet another asset that needs to be protected and not sold off to any bidder and should only be used within the NHS (which itself should not be sold off either such that these assets then come under foreign control)..

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: "Data is king"

      The NHS data store is yet another asset that needs to be protected and not sold off to any bidder and should only be used within the NHS (which itself should not be sold off either such that these assets then come under foreign control)..

      I don't think it's even being sold off, it's being given away. Palantir's 'emergency' expropriation should have been a wake-up call. Billions wasted on an overhyped threat that's generated billions in recurring revenues for ineffective solutions. Better analytics could be a good thing, but there's no reason why Palantir (or any provider) can't do, or couldn't be made to do the work in secure datacentres in the UK, with limited and strictly controlled network access.

      Other parts of the NHS problem are similarly political, both in the way we use the NHS for minor issues and the way it hasn't really scaled with population growth. We've added over 10m to our populating in the last few decades, GPs and hospitals haven't really kept up.

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: "Data is king"

      The NHS can remain in public ownership, but can make more use of private providers.

      Most GP’s are contractors, running their own practices contracted out to the NHS.

      https://lowdownnhs.info/explainers/how-do-gps-fit-into-the-nhs/

      No real reason other nhs services can’t be run on a similar but better basis.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "Data is king"

        "Most GP’s are contractors, running their own practices contracted out to the NHS."

        And, like dentists and other parts of the NHS, are slowly but surely being borged into larger and larger groupings or organisations, most likely leading to a very few very large providers eventually who then become ripe targets for take over by foreign well fund corporations experienced in the area, something the UK business world isn't generally very good at.

        1. Jim Whitaker

          Re: "Data is king"

          And your problem with this is what?

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            Re: "Data is king"

            I can't speak for JB(NB), but my problem with this is that such corporations specialise in maximising not medical outcomes but profit extraction. That's OK, I understand capitalism. I object to paying for it in my taxes.

            -A.

      2. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: "Data is king"

        "but can make more use of private providers." The slow move rto everything private you mean.

  3. Jedit Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    "an emergency response and would be unwound"

    I can't recall if it was here or elsewhere, but someone recently pointed out to me that when your lack of good governance throws the country into a permanent state of crisis, you can do whatever you like without oversight as "an emergency response" and there's no need to ever make good on your promise to surrender your new powers when the emergency is past because it never is.

    1. The Axe

      Re: "an emergency response and would be unwound"

      Income tax was brought int as an emergency measure during the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s. When that came to end in 1815 there were many petitions to repeal it and it was abolished in 1816. However it was re-introduced in 1842 as a temporary measure to allow for import/export duties to be cut. Now look where we are with income tax. It's grown and grown and grown.

  4. Roger Kynaston
    Boffin

    All your data are belong to us

    Collect all that health data up and sell it to the private providers who will be brought in to 'sort out the crisis'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All your data are belong to us

      By "private providers" did you means "chums?"

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: All your data are belong to us

        And "donors"

      2. Roger Kynaston

        Re: chums

        Fair point. Dishcloth does seem to be in thrall to the tech bros in silly con

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: All your data are belong to us

      Sell it?

      We Tories give it away!

  5. Lil Endian Silver badge
    Flame

    Lie, after lie, after lie!

    No representation: NHS England was not proposing to conduct an open debate on the nature or remit of the FDP.

    No protection of individual civil liberties: Campaign groups... have written to NHS England warning of its use of "an extensive and extremely sensitive set of data" by Palantir without appropriate legal safeguards.

    For the governmental lies, well, too many in the article to cite.

    No. The UK is not a democracy. To say it is is a joke, by a joke.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "cease processing and to either destroy or return data to NHS England"

    Returning data, what an interesting concept. So sending back some hard drives would be enough then? No worry those data could be copied elsewhere?

    Data is like secrets. When shared with someone else, privacy is over.

    1. rg287

      Returning data, what an interesting concept.

      Presumably returning processed data, with whatever documentation is contractually required.

      i.e. NHS have sent Palantir various datasets, who have processed and synthesised that data, possibly via intermediate stages into (a) new dataset(s) - and presumably returned some sort of data product, report or summary to the NHS.

      It is not unimaginable that at the end of the contract, the NHS may be entitled to any processed data not already returned as part of those routine products (for whatever further use they intend, or supply to a new partner), or even intermediate data.

      Basically ensuring the NHS have got everything they're entitled to, and Palantir have destroyed any working copies or archives.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What puzzles me about all of this is that people keep talking about it being part of privatising the NHS.

    No it isn't. It's about the Tories using the NHS as a means of them are their buddies making money out of the NHS. If they actually privatised the NHS then the opportunities to make money would be much lower than if they force the NHS to use private contractors thus passing taxpayer's money out to profit making organizations. The fact that this makes the NHS even more financially inefficient than it already is will of course be used by the government to force even more reforms onto the NHS - those reforms being contracting out even more services to private companies at even more profits for those companies and even greater cost to the taxpayer.

    The benefits for the Tories of course are that them and their buddies can continue to make money out of the NHS.And of course this isn't just he NHS but as much of the public sector as possible.

    You will recall that one of the benefits of Brexit touted by the government was that EU procurement rules would no longer be enforced and therefore public sector bodies would no longer be forced to consider bids from EU based companies and they could chose to BUY BRITISH. You will probably also have noticed (especially if you are a regular reader of El Reg) how many public sector contracts have gone out to foreign companies since Brexit. A lot of these companies are European. You may be puzzled by this, but the reason is simple. If a government minister happened to be a beneficiary of a British company with public sector contracts even after they resign as an MP then it would be relatively easy for the likes of the press to find out (not that much of the press isn't owned by Tory sympathisers). With a foreign company the money would be much harder to follow.

    There is however another benefit to the Tories. In order to fund this greater and greater financial inefficiency they have to keep on increasing funding to the NHS. Thus they can trumpet the fact that they are increasing NHS spending and then blame the NHS when that money is wasted, rather than admitting that they are forcing the NHS to waste its money.

    Of course this will eventually need sorting out or it will kill the goose that lays the golden egg, but do you think Rish! and his mates will care by then. Of course not. They'll be somewhere out of the country sipping cocktails on expensive yachts with full bank accounts. I mean it's not like any of them ever use the NHS is it? Unless of course they need emergency treatment that their fancy private hospitals don't provide...

    1. The Axe

      Very accurate. Except for one point. It's not the Tories. Neither is it Labour. It's the civil service doing it all.

  8. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Idocracy

    "I Like Money" - Frito

  9. captain veg Silver badge

    "we send £350 Million a week to the EU"

    "Let's give it to our Tory chums and donors instead."

    -A.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course!

    Of course correct use of data can help cut waiting lists and solve the crush at A&E. Smokers, heavy drinkers and the overweight can be removed from or pushed to the back of the queue as they have basically self inflicted health problems. Next year asylum seekers, long term unemployed and people who look a bit foreign join the unlucky list.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Of course!

      Since I sometimes struggle to spot irony I feel obliged to point out that my grandfather worked for many years as an A&E nurse, yet he smoked, liked a drink and was hardly svelte. Also he was Welsh, so practically an an asylum seeker in London.

      -A.

  11. MrGreen

    The Real Use for This Data

    “digital-profiling tools for the CIA and US immigration agency ICE”

    All you need to know.

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