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Second NHSE tech director to join Palantir

Published on: 26 Apr 2022

A second NHS tech director will join a technology company which is reportedly the favourite to win a new major data contract with the health service.

HSJ understands that Harjeet Dhalival, deputy director of data services at NHS England/Improvement, will join Palantir – a US-company which provides NHSE/I with software for its NHS covid-19 data store.

The data store has been credited with giving decision makers vital information to shape the government’s response during the pandemic.

According to LinkedIn, Ms Dhalival has held senior roles in NHSE’s data division for more than four years, including head of data services from April 2018 to October 2019. It is not clear what role or job title she will hold with Palantir.

News of Ms Dhalival’s appointment comes shortly after it emerged that the NHS’s former head of artificial intelligence – Indra Joshi – had joined the company.

Both appointments have been made close to an announcement by NHSE that it plans to procure a new “federated data platform” which it says will be “an essential enabler to transformational improvements across the NHS”.

It has also emerged that the five-year contract, which is due to be tendered this summer is now estimated to be worth £360m after previously being advertised at £240m.

Both Bloomberg  and Digital Health  have reported that Palantir, as a current provider of software to NHSE’s covid-19 data store, is the favourite to win the contract. Palantir has not yet confirmed to HSJ  if it is planning to bid.

In newly published procurement documents (see below this story), NHSE said the federated data platform would “enable the transformation of population health, care co-ordination and service delivery in the NHS”.

This will be done by “building on the learnings of the past two years and harnessing well understood advances in data management and analysis”.

The platform will “dock into existing infrastructure” such as trusts’ electronic patient records and other data repositories to “ensure that control of data does not change and remains with the organisations responsible for, and close to, the delivery of care”.

NHSE told suppliers last week that the platform could help save £3.6bn over the next 10 years. The regulator envisages that trusts, integrated care systems and national teams will have access to parts of the platform to help their care provision.

The platform will focus on providing data for population health management, care co-ordination, elective recovery, vaccinations, and supply chain.

NHSE plans to launch the procurement in July, with the contract planned to go live in November this year.

Privacy campaigners have voiced concern about the company’s role in the NHS  amid wider fears patients’ data is at risk of being shared with private companies.

The firm’s US parent was co-founded by Peter Thiel, who worked as a tech adviser to Donald Trump as president. A lot of its work is in defence; it was supported in its early stages by the CIA, and has since been used by US intelligence. 

A spokesman for Palantir said: ”Palantir hires the best and brightest people from public and private sector organisations around the world. We are delighted that Harjeet and Indra are joining Palantir’s UK team, which we are aiming to grow by 250 this year.

‘We are proud of the work we have done with the NHS over the last two years in response to the Covid-19 crisis, which included helping to power the NHS’ Covid-19 vaccination programme.’

NHSE was approached for comment.

The regulator previously directed HSJ to its policy for employees leaving the organisation. This policy states officials must not lobby the UK government in relation to any aspect of national or regional health policy “with a view to promoting or advancing your own business interests or those of any third party” within six months of leaving. 

  • Story updated at 10am on 27 April to include Palantir’s comment.