It’s time to tackle national pain policy and place pain squarely on the health policy map, not just as a symptom of other conditions but as an enormous problem in its own right. Pain and chronic pain should be considerations for any effective health-related policy.
The continuing debate on opioids and the February 2018 introduction of codeine rescheduling legislation have highlighted the need for better support and services for people with chronic pain and a consistent national approach.
Painaustralia is representing the views of members and our clinical committee, as well as advocating for the needs of consumers with chronic pain, as a member of the National Codeine Co-ordinating Implementation Working Group. This Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) committee will guide introduction and implementation of the legislation. The current focus is on developing appropriate resources for health professionals and consumers.
In the area of medicinal cannabis regulation, a topical and often polarising issue, Painaustralia has been invited to participate in the TGA’s upcoming medicinal cannabis clinical meeting, which will review the current scientific evidence. Should it be found to be effective for chronic pain, there is also the question of method of administration (inhalation presents its own health risks) and developing recommended dosages and access arrangements – there is still a long way to go before we see doctors prescribing it for chronic non-cancer pain.
Planning for the new pain prevention project led by The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre offers a significant opportunity to put into place measures nationally to:
identify early interventions to reduce risk of developing chronic pain and assessment for relevance to Australian primary care settings;
identify screening instruments to detect people at risk of developing chronic pain and assessment suitable for different primary care settings;
develop and trial a local mapping tool for local need and capacity for early intervention at Primary Health Network level; and
develop and trial tools to assist locally sustainable plans for improving local early interventions for people at risk of chronic pain or poorly managed pain.
It will be important that the project be accompanied by appropriate social media campaigns for health professionals and for the community.
The Medicare Review is still underway and Painaustralia met recently with Professor Bruce Robinson to discuss options for better support for pain management. We will continue to advocate strongly for pain to be an important priority focus in this review.
Painaustralia will keep members updated on new developments. We also encourage you to follow us on Facebook or Twitter @Painaustralia to get the latest news.