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Few technology companies working with the NHS have come under as much scrutiny as Palantir.

Since the creation of the covid-19 data store – which health chiefs credit with providing vital real-time information to help shape the government’s response to the pandemic – privacy campaigners have loudly voiced concerns about the company.

But Palantir is here to stay, with its technology currently being rolled out across several trusts to help with the elective recovery.

The firm has now persuaded the NHS’s former artificial intelligence chief to join its ranks, in what can be seen as the latest signal of its interest in the healthcare market.

The chief in question – Indra Joshi – left NHS England after three years of working on NHSX’s AI lab, which aimed to speed up use of AI across the NHS.

A report in Bloomberg suggested Dr Joshi’s move raised questions around conflict of interest, given her seniority in the NHS tech hierarchy and NHSE’s ongoing procurement for a new data platform.

But NHSE seemed unconcerned, and – when asked about the appointment by HSJ – merely pointed to its rules for all employees to avoid lobbying government on healthcare matters for six months after leaving the organisation.

Merger looms large for small provider

Another small NHS provider could soon be subsumed after the official departure of its long-serving chief executive.

East Cheshire Trust’s John Wilbraham has been on planned sickness leave since November, and has now officially departed. The trust said he wanted to focus on his recovery.

Many of East Cheshire’s services, although rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission, have long been deemed clinically and financially unsustainable.

With this in mind, the trust recently began a clinical integration programme with neighbouring Stockport Foundation Trust, and the question of a joint leadership model between the trusts will surely now be considered.

Stockport itself was recently taken over by Karen James, who also leads Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care FT.

Also on today

In news, we report on a specialist eating disorder hospital in Yorkshire that has been placed in special measures, and this week’s Health Check podcast says the NHS has been told to scale back infection control measures, so what will this mean for staff and patients?