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NHS England plans for privacy enhancing technologies


Mark Say Managing Editor

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NHS England is planning to set up a service for the use of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) in the health service.

It has outlined the plan in a market notice for a supplier to support the initiative, indicating a value of up to £35 million for a contract that could run up to seven years.

The notice says that NHS-PET will be aimed at providing protection and a standard approach for the safe use of data in healthcare, and initially deployed for the future NHS Federated Data Platform (FDP), but will be used in conjunction with various data platforms over time.

It will be a standalone service, potentially including software-as-a-service solutions to provide data privacy.

“The successful supplier will be required to scale the use of the solution across the enterprise,” the notice says. “Connectivity between NHS enterprise data platforms is extremely important as it will enable rapid scaling and sharing of tools and applications that have been developed at a local level, in a secure way, supporting levelling up and reducing variation across England.

“Bidders should therefore ensure their solution is designed around open standards to support integration and scaling requirements.”

Need for flexibility

It adds that NHS-PET must have the ability to treat shared data between all levels of the NHS and be flexible enough to handle both traditional data protection scenarios, as well as being extensible to new and emerging data trends to make it possible to use the service beyond the FDP.

NHS England will be among the service users, along with trusts and integrated care systems.

The plan has become public shortly after the Information Commissioner’s Office published guidance and recommended the use of PETs in the public sector. It said the technologies will support security and confidentiality by enabling organisations to share, link and analyse people’s personal information without having access to it.

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