Vital resource launched for those in pain
Access to best practice pain management just became a whole lot easier with the launch of Painaustralia’s National Pain Services Directory. The directory maps more than 200 specialist pain services across Australia, enabling better access for millions of Australians suffering from chronic pain.
Painaustralia reports that in 2018, 3.24 million Australians were living with chronic pain (pain that typically lasts longer than three months). Over half (56%) of those living with chronic pain find that their condition restricts their daily activities, with many feeling depressed or anxious about their condition.
Painaustralia CEO Carol Bennett said, “Most of the 3.2 million Australians living with pain don’t receive best practice treatment. Many rely solely on opioids and other medicines that bear their own costs.
“This directory provides a much-needed, easy-to-navigate way for those in pain to find pain specialists and clinics across Australia, greatly increasing awareness and access to better treatment options as supported by the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management,” she said.
The National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management, currently under development by Painaustralia, will provide a key step towards a national and holistic policy framework that will support consumers, health practitioners and the wider community to improve the quality of life for people living with pain, their families and carers, and minimise its impact.
As the national peak body working to improve the quality of life of people living with pain, Painaustralia developed the National Pain Services Directory with support from the federal government as part of a commitment to invest $6.8m to improve understanding of pain.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt said support for the National Pain Services Directory was further evidence of the Morrison government’s commitment to a healthier Australia.
“Chronic pain is an escalating health issue and carries a significant economic burden, both for affected individuals and the national health system. The National Pain Services Directory will make it easier for people to access more than 200 pain treatment services, and ensure they are able to receive treatment that is appropriate and effective for their needs,” he said.
Pain is closely associated with other health conditions, mental health and disability. Nearly 1.45 million (44%) people in pain also live with depression and anxiety. Limited awareness of good options to deal with chronic pain means many of these Australians are falling through the cracks of the country’s health system. The directory will offer critical information to help those in pain get the support that they need.
Sarah Fowler (22), who has lived with chronic pain for half of her life, emphasised the importance of having access to the right support, treatment and services. Fowler’s chronic pain saw her confined to a wheelchair for six months when she was 10 years old. “For two years, I was told by doctors that my pain was in my head. That was until I was admitted in agony to Sydney Children’s Hospital while on holidays.
“Only then did I get an answer and realised I had probably had persistent chronic pain since early childhood. Over the years, I have had to take monthly — and eventually yearly — trips to a treatment centre in Sydney undergoing a regime of physiotherapy, medication, hydrotherapy and cognitive therapy,” Fowler said.
“Now, finally, with the right access to multidisciplinary pain support, I have the tools to manage my pain independently. This tool is invaluable to others like me who need to find support,” she said.
Australian Pain Society President Dr Anne Burke said, “Ensuring timely access to high-quality, multidisciplinary care is essential for the large number of people who are living with chronic and persistent pain in Australia.
“People need the right care, as close to their home as possible, so that they can get back into the driver’s seat and take control of their lives.”
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