Painaustralia released the final report of our Opioid Reform Survey that was launched in July 2020. We had nearly 600 responses, nearly 300 comments on a social media post, not to mention the numerous emails and phone calls. To say this issue has touched a nerve within the chronic pain community is an understatement.
The report highlights that the latest opioid reforms come at a time when people living with chronic pain find themselves in an increasingly uncertain and anxious environment with the pandemic.
Our final survey report has now revealed some clear themes. For consumers, the latest opioid prescribing reforms have created unacceptable barriers including an additional layer of complexity, loss of function and autonomy, perpetuated stigma and isolation and significant impacts on mental health.
The survey’s findings outline the lack of co-ordinated communication to support these significant reforms to the availability of opioids. The findings also highlight the lack of accessible and affordable options for the management of chronic pain, and especially the significant mental health impost of chronic pain.
These are issues that need urgent resolution. Through our submission to Treasury, Painaustralia has recommended that these reforms must be supported by a targeted communications campaign that is consumer centred and can address the negative impact on patient sentiment. We must now also expedite key activities that were outlined in the National Strategic Action Plan including:
system navigation support
MBS supported pain management plans to provide support for consumers and health professionals in managing the effect of these reforms
mental health support specifically for those within the chronic pain community impacted by these reforms together with the pandemic.
Just as there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for chronic pain, there is no single policy reform that will fix the enormous toll chronic pain exacts on our country. While we would like to see a strategic and comprehensive approach to chronic pain, we recognise that even small steps can make a difference when it comes to providing relief to people grappling with accessing appropriate care and support.