Perspectives

Australia’s health and medical research workforce

Expert people providing exceptional returns

Deloitte Access Economics prepared this report for the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) to describe the dynamics and quantify the value of the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded health and medical research workforce in Australia.

Over a number of years, ASMR has observed, with deep concern, the erosion of Australia’s health and medical research workforce. A large proportion of this workforce is supported by the NHMRC, the peak funding body for Australian health and medical research. However, five years of static investment into the NHMRC has resulted in falling grant funding rates and a decline in the NHMRC-funded workforce.

Deloitte Access Economics was commissioned to describe the dynamics and quantify the value of the NHMRC-funded health and medical research workforce in Australia. Furthermore, the report calculates the health and economic gains attributable to the NHMRC-funded workforce under various contrasting scenarios, including changes to workforce size and investment models.

The report estimated that each $1 invested into the NHMRC-funded health and medical research workforce (between 2000-2015) returned $3.20, equating to a net benefit, over a period of 15 years, of $23.4 billion. Over the next 10 years, current investment levels may forgo benefits of up to $45.5 billion to Australian society compared to an investment model where the funding grows from approximately 0.55% to 3% of total health system expenditure. 

The data in this report highlight the major changes currently occurring in the NHMRC-funded workforce and provide evidence of the exceptional health and economic returns of investing in Australia’s productive and highly talented research workforce. The data suggest that Australia still has capacity to provide greater output and benefits as a result of investing further in the NHMRC and the workforce it supports.

Australia’s health and medical research workforce
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