“How are you going to get the government to implement this, particularly since we are liable to have a change in government in September and it could be back to the beginning, Groundhog Day.” Norman Swan, interviewing members of the McKeon Review Panel in 2013.
In January 2016, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) CEO Professor Anne Kelso announced a review of the structure of NHMRC’s grant program. The review aimed to determine if restructuring existing programs could optimise the significant public investment (approx. $800 million per annum) disbursed through NHMRC grant programs.
Health matters to Australians. Health and medical research (HMR) does too. In 2016, Research Australia polled public opinion on national priorities. Eighty eight percent of respondents highlighted improving hospitals and the health system. Seventy nine percent of respondents favoured increased HMR funding.
Released in February 2013, the McKeon Review marked the most comprehensive analysis of the health and medical research (HMR) sector since the Wills Review in 1998. McKeon’s words highlight one of the panel’s most alarming takeaways. At the end of the review period, despite the “combined insights of thousands of individuals who contributed their ideas and time”, meeting with “over 300 individuals from universities, MRIs, governments, hospitals, businesses and not-for-profit organisations” and receiving 400 written submissions, the panel were not able to make a confident assessment of total HMR spending.