Well this year’s very difficult start has continued from bushfires to storms and floods and now coronavirus which will have a deep and lasting impact on the world. For many living with existing health and financial difficulties this will exacerbate those challenges. We know that for many people living with pain conditions, there is much fear and anxiety about what the health, social and economic impact of coronavirus might mean. We have heard first-hand many of these concerns and are aiming to provide the most current, high quality, informed advice for our members to enable them to access information and respond to the changing circumstances in this extraordinary period. We cover this unfolding public health issue in two blogs on providing people living with chronic pain with some strategies to manage their health, as well as one on good, credible sources of information.
Although it seems like another time altogether, there has been much activity in the pain space in recent weeks prior to more stringent social distancing measures. Notable was the meeting hosted by the Faculty of Pain Medicine and supported by Painaustralia in February exploring the delivery of the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management. The meeting brought together around 40 key organisations to consider aspects of the Plan and priority activities for the sector. There was widespread agreement that the momentum gained through the development of the Action Plan should be maintained.
It was also exciting to participate in the Queensland Statewide Persistent Pain Network’s meeting to explore a state-wide approach to implementing the Action Plan. It seems that Queensland has assigned a high priority to its response and has made some significant progress to date – much attributable to the work of the Network as the key leadership group driving this work.
It will be the challenge and responsibility for us all in the coming months to ensure that the work done to date does not get overtaken altogether by current events. Good information, support and services for people living with chronic pain conditions will continue to be in demand now and well into the future and probably more so in such times.
I participated in a number of other important events during recent weeks from the launch of the Pain Revolution ride to pharmacy events including the launch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s report on ageing and medicines and presented to a Terry White Chem-mart Masterclass for more than 400 pharmacists and their staff in which pain management was a feature.
We have also participated in a number of key policy forums including a meeting of the Launch of Palliative Care Australia’s new public awareness campaign ‘it’s more than you think’ workshop to explore the research priorities in medicinal cannabis, take-home naloxone program workshop, meeting to discuss the prosthesis list review and a TGA forum on communicating new opioid regulatory reforms.
Of course, current and future activity has been deeply impacted with the Faculty of Pain Medicine and Australian Pain Society both cancelling their Annual Scientific meetings in light of social distancing measures and the foremost need to protect consumers, clinicians, speakers and participants, staff and their families. While this is disappointing for many in the sector, those events will hopefully return next year.
For Painaustralia, the start of the year has seen some departures and new appointments to our Board and Consumer Advisory Group. Board Directors, Mr Geoff Applebee (Treasurer) and Ms Leanne Wells (consumer representative) stepped aside after 8 and 5 year terms respectively and we thank them for their contribution and wish them well.
I am delighted that Mr Ben Tansley (Treasurer) and Sister Mary Lynne Cochrane (Chair Consumer Advisory Group) have been appointed to the board and I really look forward to working with them both. For more information on our board and the new board directors please click here.
In addition, our Consumer Advisory Group has been bolstered with the addition of new representatives from Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT joining the group, bringing a range of lived experience of chronic pain conditions - adenomyosis, endometriosis, Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. The work of our CAG in providing grounded, lived experience is incredibly important to informing all that we do at Painaustralia. We thank our current and new CAG members for their amazing support. Meet the members of this year’s CAG here.
In these most difficult times, please be safe and keep well.