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The High Cost of Pain

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National Pain Strategy


"Pain is Australia's third most costly health problem and arguably

the developed world's largest 'undiscovered' health priority."

- Professor Michael Cousins AM, Chair National Pain Strategy

Australia was the first country in the world to develop a national framework for the treatment and management of pain: the National Pain Strategy. Through the National Pain Strategy, Australia is developing a coordinated approach to health policy reform.


The key goals of the National Pain Strategy are:

  • People in pain as a national health priority
  • Knowledgeable, empowered & supported consumers
  • Skilled professionals & best-practice evidence-based care
  • Access to interdisciplinary care at all levels
  • Quality improvement & evaluation
  • Research


We are currently undertaking a review of progress of the NPS

Painaustralia is currently identifying actions that have been or are being undertaken, consistent with the goals of the National Pain Strategy, by government and non-government organisations, in order to inform a review of progress with the strategy. The review is an important step in trying to scope the range of activities underway and help facilitate greater consistency and collaboration, as well as assess the gaps and identify how we can address them. 


So far we have information on the activities of 90 organisations. We are aware other organisations are yet to report on activities they are undertaking, and would like to hear from any organisation that would like to supply us with new or updated information. 


The report will remain in draft form until such time as we manage to collect all relevant input. Pease call us on 02 9130 6086 if you have any queries.


The latest draft document is available here for comment. 


National Pain Strategy 2011 Exe Summary 1                                                              National Pain Strategy 2011 1

Executive Summary




How the National Pain Strategy was developed


The National Pain Strategy was the key outcome of the National Pain Summit held at Parliament House, Canberra, in March 2010.


The Pain Summit attracted 200 delegates representing more than 150 healthcare professional, consumer organisations, funders and not-for-profit bodies concerned with pain and treatment of pain.


The first draft of the NPS was developed by a series of Working Groups led by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists - the Faculty of Pain Medicine (ANZCA/FPM), the Australian Pain Society (APS) and the consumer group Chronic Pain Australia (CPA), in collaboration with the MBF Foundation (now Bupa Foundation) and the University of Sydney Pain Management Research Institute.


The initial draft was further developed by a series of Reference Groups representing all primary healthcare disciplines, pain specialists, other relevant medical specialists and consumers. The subsequent draft, aligned with the recommendations of the Prescription Opioid Policy published by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in April 2009, was released for public and stakeholder consultation in October 2009 and revised prior to the National Pain Summit.


Painaustralia is the body formed to implement recommendations of the NPS, and its primary role is in advocacy and facilitation.


As a result of the NPS, two states – New South Wales and Queensland – are now implementing state-wide pain management plans while others are integrating pain management into their chronic disease management frameworks. A total of 14 new regional pain centres have opened up in three states (NSW, QLD, VIC), and progress is also being made to improve access to education and training for health professionals.


The National Pain Strategy has attracted global interest, particularly in the USA, Canada and Europe. Painaustralia maintains close links with relevant bodies in other parts of the world and represents Australia at key international meetings.

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