This week, Painaustralia was pleased to join with our founding members, the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FPM) at a workshop aimed at cross sectoral input on the implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management.
It has now been a bit over half a year since the plan was launched, after a year of exhaustive consultation and development and cross sectoral advocacy. In setting the landscape for the workshop, CEO of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Nigel Fidgeon and Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, Dr Meredith Craigie, both highlighted the strong sectoral support for the Plan and highlighted the opportunities this presents for the sector in working together to advance pain management in Australia.
My presentation highlighted the enormous impact chronic pain has on our communities, as outlined in the Deloitte Access Economics Cost of Pain Report. My presentation also delved into each of the eight goals of the Action Plan, distilling the vision of every objective and what the road ahead would look like in terms of outcomes (link to presentation).
Painaustralia CEO Carol Bennett takes the floor
It is also satisfying to know that all the work and effort in developing the Plan has been acknowledged with unprecedented levels of funding in the areas of:
A national education strategy
Health professional education and training
Rural health programs in pain
Take home naloxone program
Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Professor Paul Kelly outlined the Government’s response to the state of pain in Australia, noting it is Australia’s second leading cause of disability. He emphasised that while the current focus has been on ‘turning off the tap’ in the form of regulatory changes, it was also important to take a preventative approach to pain management to ensure that we tackle the rising prevalence of the condition.
Deputy CMO Prof Paul Kelly highlights 'hidden' aspect of preventing onset of chronic pain, as second leading cause of disability there is an urgent need to 'turn off the tap' and ‘prevent the flood’ of chronic pain as well
It was surprising to hear from Professor Kelly that since 2000, the Australian Government has invested $265 million in research into pain. As I pointed out in my presentation, it remains at just one sixth of funding levels of other comparable conditions.
Future priorities for Government include:
Non pharmaceutical approaches to pain management
Building on research and evidence
Participants worked together on five themes: consumer education, health practitioner education, clinical guidelines and tools, access and better implementation and research.
Dean elect of the Faculty of Pain Medicine A/Prof Mick Vagg also emphasised why the faculty and ANZCA are both moving towards putting social and psychological factors in pain management before biomedical ones, noting biomedical treatment is almost always ineffective until social and psychological elements are addressed first.
Dean elect of the Faculty of Pain Medicine A/Prof Mick Vagg explains why the faculty is moving towards putting social and psychological factors first, because biomedical treatment is useless till these overwhelmingly important elements are addressed first
Importantly, one of the key outcomes across all the themes was the focus on ensuring consumer participation. There was unanimous support that all the Action Plan outcomes and objectives could only be achieved if consumers remained a central part of their development and implementation (co-design).
It was encouraging to see the strong and consistent support the Plan has across the sector. There were many agreed actions from the day, including the key task of advocating for the establishment of a National Pain Management Leadership Group.
In the words of one participant and reflected throughout the day by many, what is clear is that ‘action plans are only as good as the surface they are written on if implementation does not follow’.
Painaustralia will work with our members to harness the goodwill and momentum that unites the sector. We look forward to working with all the stakeholders, and above all, people living with chronic pain in realising the ambitious and significant agenda set out in the National Action Plan.
Anything less will mean we will have failed to improve the lives of people living with pain in Australia.