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A push to improve pain management

This is the first of two posts related to pain management.

In the article below, Lesley Brydon, who originally trained as a pharmacist, lives with chronic pain herself, and is now Chief Executive Officer of painaustralia, describes global efforts to improve pain management.

***

Some local and international developments in pain management

Lesley Brydon writes:

The international pain community and World Medical Association have recently drawn attention to the unnecessary suffering of tens of millions of people world-wide in the journal PAIN, calling for access to pain management as a fundamental human right through the “Declaration of Montreal”.

This global movement comes in the wake of Australia’s National Pain Summit, held in Canberra in March 2010. Chaired by leading pain expert, Professor Michael Cousins, the summit brought together over 150 healthcare and consumer organisations to develop the world’s first National Pain Strategy (NPS) to improve the lives of people living with pain.

Following an International Pain Summit in Montreal in September 2011 and a meeting at the European Parliament in May, other countries including the USA, Canada, the UK and other European countries are moving to develop their own National Strategies.

Now, a national body, Painaustralia has been formed to implement the NPS nation-wide with a focus on:

  • Having  chronic pain recognised as disease in its own right and a national health priority;
  • Empowering and support consumers in pain self-management;
  • Facilitating education for health professionals in best practice evidence-based care; and
  • Promote interdisciplinary care at all levels to better manage acute, chronic and cancer pain,

To date, three states – Qld, NSW and WA have announced the development of state-wide pain plans.

Qld Health has allocated $39 million over four years to resource five pain clinics in regional and metropolitan locations.

Following recommendations from a Ministerial Taskforce, NSW will announce details of its plan in early 2012 and WA is adapting its existing service networks to reflect the recommendations of the NPS.

The Royal Australian College of GP’s and the Faculty of Pain Medicine are collaborating to develop an online education program funded by Bupa Health Foundation and a new Discipline of Pain Medicine has been established at University of Sydney for under-graduate education and training.

Painaustralia is engaging with Medicare Locals to facilitate the planning of pain management services in a systematic way, throughout metropolitan and regional Australia.

Each Medicare Local will be encouraged to adopt the NPS recommended model of care which addresses the biological, medical, psychological and social aspects of pain.

The model aims to ensure effective integration of primary and tertiary services, supported by community networks to help consumers understand and take responsibility for managing their own pain.  Painaustralia has a register of resources for this including the definitive book – Manage Your Pain by Prof Michael Nicholas et al and a Pain Toolkit, available here.

Chronic pain is estimated to cost the Australian economy $34.3 billion each year, making it the third largest health expense by disease, ranking only after cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal conditions.

One in five Australians, including children, lives with chronic pain, rising to one in three of the older age group.

Details of painaustralia funding

Painaustralia is funded through membership subscriptions from members which  include many of the organisations that contributed to the NPS.

Our  initial funding has come through significant contributions from ANZCA Faculty  of Pain Medicine, the Australian Pain Society and the Pain Management Research Institute (PMRI) and we have obtained arms length support through a  collaboration of  four pharma companies – Pfizer, Mundipharma, Jansenn  Cilag and CSL Grunenthal. (They have no say in the  organsation).

We have  been most fortunate to have the pro-bono services of law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, who have undertaken all of the legal work (constitution etc) and  have pro-bono financial advice and auditing from Deloittes.

I took over the role of CEO on a semi-probono basis, having organised the National Pain Summit under the direction of Professor Michael Cousins, Director of PMRI.

I was formerly CEO of the Advertising Federation of Australia (retired in 2008) and originally trained as a pharmacist. I live with chronic pain, so have an interest and knowledge in the field. I currently run Painaustralia from a home office and have a part time assistant. Hopefully as time goes by and more funding becomes available, we will move to more formal premises.

We have recently obtained DRG (Direct Gift Recipient/tax exempt) status so will now be in a position to apply for corporate grants and are also applying for government grants – in particular in the area of prevention and management of chronic diseases.

• In the next post,  a Canberra-based freelance journalist/researcher, Geri Badham, describes her experiences of living with chronic pain.