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Gluckman calls for more research funding

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/06/2017 Rebecca Howard

Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister's chief science adviser, says more funds should be poured into medical research, which accounts for less than 1 per cent of the government's health budget.

The government Thursday launched a new 2017-2027 health research strategy after last year's $97 million increase for the Health Research Council, staggered over five years.

The funds mark the "largest increase in health research funding New Zealand has ever seen", Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith said during the launch of the report at the Clinical Trials Unit at Wellington Hospital.

By 2020, annual investment in the HRC will increase to $120 million. The goal is to create a world-leading research and innovation system, he said.

Still, Sir Peter said the Crown spends $15 billion on healthcare every year and even with the large increase in the Health Research Council funding "we are still spending less than 1 per cent of our health budget" on research.

The onus is on the health sector to carry out the necessary operational research to be more effective and "do better by its patients", he said.

"A business of $15b in any other sector would be spending at least 1 per cent of its budget on operational research just to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its delivery," he added. That equates to about $150m.

Mr Goldsmith wouldn't comment on whether the health sector is spending enough, sheeting responsibility back to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman. However, he underscored the government has "significantly" boosted funding for health research.

The next steps involve setting up an external advisory group to advise on implementation. Progress will be evaluated by Sir Peter and Mr Coleman every six months, who will provide regular reports to the Cabinet.

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