Croakey recently wondered why the primary health care sector was so absent from the appointments to the new National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The omission has been somewhat rectified by today’s announcement of the Council’s committees, particularly with the newly established prevention and community health committee, and the newly established health care committee.
But primary care remains a minority player on the powerful research committee, which advises and makes recommendations on research grant applications and funding.
Meanwhile, the recent Croakey post prompted Rebecca James, CEO at Research Australia, to offer another interpretation of the new Council’s membership. She writes:
“The bureaucratization of the NHMRC is surprising given the newly legislated independence of the NHMRC.
Perhaps it could be interpreted as a renewed commitment by state governments to reform and embed a “learning” health system. On the other hand, on matters of basic science, innovation, commercialization, technology, and knowledge transfer (particularly through primary care), there are likely to be a few lone voices on the Council who may struggle to be heard.
Research Australia’s community surveys show the Australian public considers “improving hospitals and the health system” is the highest priority for the nation, ahead of keeping the economy strong and improving national infrastructure.
Research on prevention, treatment and cures for illnesses and diseases will play an important role in Australia’s future. Let’s hope the Council can bring together the knowledge, experience, wisdom, and visionary thinking to work out practical ways to meet the public’s expectations.”
Post Script: Hilary Russell, Deputy Head and General Manager, Research Strategy, at the NHMRC, has sent in this response to the recent Croakey posts:
“The National Health and Medical Research Council is appointed under the NHMRC Act 1992. The Act stipulates that the membership include the Chief Medical Officers for the Commonwealth, States and Territories (nine people). It also requires the appointment a person with expertise in the health needs of Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders; in consumer issues; expertise in business, as well as 6 – 11 people with expertise in a range of other health, research and ethics areas.
The newly appointed Council includes experts with a wide diversity of knowledge from their current and previous roles across the continuum of health services, research and biotechnology.
The knowledge and skills of Council members are complemented by the members of the five NHMRC Principal Committees.”
• Declaration: Melissa Sweet, the Croakey moderator, is currently doing some editing work for Research Australia