21st April 2021

In what is described as a big win for New Zealand health research the Productivity Commission’s latest report recommends that “the Government should use its intended major health system reform to improve the mandate, funding and incentives for DHBs to participate in the healthtech innovation ecosystem”.

New Zealanders for Health Research (NZHR) Chief Executive Chris Higgins said that “In our submission on the Productivity Commissions “Frontier Firms” draft report we said that the Commission’s final report should include a specific recommendation that health research be embedded as an essential component of a reforming and reformed health system.”

“We’re delighted that this is in effect what the Productivity Commission’s final report has done, and we now challenge the government to take notice and act accordingly” said Mr Higgins.

“New Zealanders for Health Research has been lobbying for health research to be recognised as an essential part of the health system ever since the health and disability system review was announced in May 2018” said Mr Higgins. “We made submissions to the review panel itself, met with Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall, included the issue as part of our oral submission on the 2021 budget to Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee, wrote to the head of the health reforms transition unit based in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and wrote twice to Health Minister Andrew Little”

“For the most part we’ve felt pretty much ignored, so its gratifying to have our views vindicated in the Productivity Commission’s report” said Mr Higgins. “We’re now hoping that we’ll see the Commission’s recommendation reflected in how the health reforms are rolled out”

The Productivity Commission report also states that almost all of the Commission’s case-study interviewees highlighted the challenge of opening up DHBs to play a bigger role in innovation and went on to cite the New Zealanders for Health Research submission which stated that its “stakeholders draw contrasts with the UK’s NHS based health care system where health research is an essential, normal and funded component of clinical practice … if the New Zealand system were to look something like the UK system that in NZHR’s view would be a good start”

The Commission’s report says the government’s Health Research Strategy has attempted to provide a coherent strategy on innovation but implementation has been slow, poorly coordinated and lacking in resource to ensure DHBs engage with healthtech innovation – a point which was made in NZHR’s submission

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For further information and requests for interviews contact NZHR chief executive Chris Higgins on 027 292 8433 or [email protected] .

NZHR advocates for increased investment in health research. It is an alliance chaired by Graham Malaghan, of the Wellington-based Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and supported by universities, clinical research organisations, and organisations representing both the philanthropic and pharmaceutical industry sectors. For more information visit https://www.nz4healthresearch.org.nz/