• New tool from tech giant Palantir collects trust-level PPE data
  • Trust procurement heads critical of functionality of system and clarity over its purpose
  • Dozens of trusts already using another PPE analytics tool with more functionality

Trust procurement leads have expressed frustration over a new stock reporting tool introduced by NHS England/Improvement on Monday.

The “NHS Foundry” data collection system, created by Silicon Valley tech firm Palantir, is designed to track levels of PPE and other covid-19 related products at trusts.

But procurement leads have told HSJ the system so far offers limited functionality and produces relatively little information for users.

Trusts must submit daily information about their PPE usage via an online survey. But sources criticised the questions on the form, with one describing them as “too high level” to be useful.

For example, the form asks about trusts’ “FFP3 mask” usage, but does not ask trusts to specify model numbers or whether any are re-usable.

Procurement sources at both trust and system level also criticised a lack of communication and clarity regarding the role of the new tool. Sources said it offered little benefit to trusts and regions, which cannot see all the data it captures. Some questioned its ability to help regions provide mutual aid.

The issue is compounded for trusts which are already using alternative PPE tracking and prediction tools. Stretched procurement staff now have to input similar data across two platforms.

Dozens of trusts are using a free “StockWatch” PPE tracking and forecasting system from healthcare analytics firm Adviseinc and partner Clear AI. A basic version of the tool was launched on 23 March and expanded over the next week to capture more data. The platform, which enables mutual aid, is currently being used in more than 150 NHS, public sector and social care organisations. 

Although Adviseinc initially provided StockWatch data for two NHS regions for the Palantir system, the firm told customers in an email that NHSE/I was not using the information and wanted each trust to complete the Palantir survey themselves.

The new data collection system was announced in a recent letter that asked trusts to stop bulk-buying their own PPE. Trusts were told this would help reduce competition in an already stretched competitive global market. A source also told HSJ the move was intended to prevent local stockpiling.

HSJ has approached NHSE/I, the DHSC and Palantir for comment.