As this issue of eNews is published, we are delighted to inform our readers about Friday’s announcement by Minister for Health, Greg Hunt that new funding will be provided to ensure consumers are better informed about codeine and chronic pain. We are pleased that Painaustralia together with other key health groups will be given an opportunity to provide accurate information to the community about the use and misuse of codeine as part of the transition to prescription only codeine and alternative treatment and support options.
In other important news, we are delighted to announce the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has just released new guidelines on opioid prescribing. This will help bring clarity to GPs and should help reduce overprescribing and overuse of opioids for chronic pain.
The Productivity Commission has this week highlighted what our members are already well aware of: pain is a major contributor to lost potential, poor quality of life, earning capacity and productivity. A health system investment to address poor health could inject $200 billion into our economy in the next 20 years.
The report 'Shifting the Dial' released by Treasurer Scott Morrison produced some startling figures. Men living with chronic pain earn 15% less than average, while men with nervous or emotional conditions (one in five Australians with chronic pain have depression or other mood disorders) earn 35% less.
Painaustralia has been very active in two key areas of interest to our members in recent weeks: codeine up-scheduling legislation and medicinal cannabis. Both issues have required developing evidence based policy, partnering with key stakeholders, advocating politically and publicly through the media, and further advancing the need for more effective pain management options. While both issues have captured the public’s attention, Painaustralia is keen to ensure that the issue of pain and the need for more accessible effective treatment and support options are the central focus.
Recent Mental Health and Carers Weeks also provided an opportunity to highlight the needs and issues for people with pain and their carers.
We know that Australian adults with severe or very severe pain also suffer from depression or other mood disorders at four times the rate for people without pain and one in three have high levels of psychological distress. With 21% of suicides related to physical health problems and persistent pain, the growing need for effective pain management is clear.
Carers Week provided the opportunity to highlight the importance of accessible paediatric pain services and better access to support for young people with pain and their families to relieve the enormous pressures faced by parents. We put a public face to the issue with Scott Milne sharing his experience with his two young boys’ painful conditions and need for specialised treatment and support.
Painaustralia is preparing our Pre-Budget Submission which will articulate our priorities for the 2018-19 Budget, areas requiring investment and associated economic and social benefits of minimising the pain burden in Australia. It will call for better investment in pain management services to bring about significant health benefits for people living with pain and their families, and the wider community.
It seems that the significance of pain and its impact on our community and economy continues to grow – now is the time for commitment and investment in pain management to shift the dial.