Putting pain on the agenda

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012

EEAST launch their book, Pain: an ambulance perspective

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust is to become a key player in shaping the pain agenda, as four leading organisations working in the field of chronic pain treatment launch a new report.

Lucas Hawkes-Frost, a clinical operations manager with the service, was invited to the Houses of Parliament at the beginning of July for the launch of Putting Pain on the Agenda: The Report of the First English Pain Summit, which highlights the need for stronger guidelines and universal criteria governing how chronic pain should be identified and treated.

Health Minister Earl Howe and Linda Riordan MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Chronic Pain Group, also attended the launch.

The report, by the Royal College of GPs, the British Pain Society, the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition and the Faculty of Pain Medicine, urges government and healthcare providers to review current systems and levels of care, recommending:

• that clear standards and criteria be agreed and implemented nationally for the identification, assessment, and initial management of problematic pain

• that an awareness campaign be launched to explain the nature, extent, impact, prevention and treatment of chronic pain to the wider general and NHS community.

• that nationally-agreed commissioning guidelines be developed, describing best value care in chronic pain to reduce unwarranted variation in care provision

• that a data strategy for chronic pain be agreed through the creation of an epidemiology of chronic pain working group.

Dr Beverly Collett, chair of the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition and Consultant in Pain Management and Anaesthesia at Leicester Royal Infirmary NHS Trust, said: "This report is founded upon the belief that every person should have the fundamental right to access effective pain management services. Sadly however, it is all too apparent that existing systems of care do not provide the support that people living with long-term pain need on a daily basis.

"There is broad consensus across the healthcare community that we need new, national guidelines in place to ensure improved levels of care."

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust set pain management as a clinical quality priority in 2011/12, and published the book Pain: an ambulance perspective in January this year, and at its recent clinical summit invited two pain treatment experts - Dr Jane Quinlan from the British Pain Society and Professor Pat Schofield from the University of Greenwich to speak to staff about the subject.

Lucas, who works in the Bedfordshire area, said of the event: "It was just wonderful - so many people were aware of our book, and acknowledged how focused we are on improving patient experience.

"People are discovering that the ambulance service has got something to contribute to the pain agenda and Dr Collett has asked us to work with her and spread our good practice nationally."

Chronic pain - persistent pain lasting longer than three months affects nearly eight million people in the UK. The NHS spends more than £500 million per year on pain medication alone, while the UK's annual incapacity benefit bill for those living with chronic pain stands at £3.8 billion.

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