Self-management advice and information for people living with chronic pain is being made available to people across Scotland in their local pharmacy thanks to a campaign run jointly by Pain Concern and Pain Association Scotland with the support of the Scottish Government and Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
The campaign aims to encourage people with pain to ask for advice from their pharmacist, as well as promoting awareness of the information, resources and training available for self-management. Posters and leaflets providing this information have gone up in 1243 community pharmacies across Scotland.
Dr Steve Gilbert, National Lead Clinician for Chronic Pain, said: “Raising awareness of chronic pain will help everyone to get the best advice about pain management and to find ways of really making a difference.”
It is hoped that the posters, prominently displayed in pharmacy windows, will be ideally located to catch the eye of many of the 18% of people in Scotland who the NHS estimates live with chronic pain, and may prompt those who have not previously sought or been able to find the help they need in managing their pain to take action.
Heather Wallace, Chair of Pain Concern, said: “This six-week poster campaign is an important new development in empowering people to self-manage their pain”. She continued; “Never before has all the information been put together like this. By utilising Scotland’s community pharmacies we will reach those people who need it most”.
Pain clinics make a real difference to the majority of their users, but many patients do not have access to adequate services or face long waiting lists. These were among the findings of the National Pain Audit (NPA), the first comprehensive survey of pain management services across England and Wales.
People living with chronic pain conditions in England and Wales will also now be able to access information about the specialist clinics in their local area after findings from the audit were made available online. By looking up your postcode you can check whether, for example, the pain clinics in your area have an occupational therapist or acupuncturist, or if they run self-help education sessions.
The three-year project carried out by the British Pain Society and Dr Foster Intelligence measured the availability and activity of NHS centres specialising in the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. The NPA found that service users typically had a very poor quality of life and that the greatest impact patients reported was on their working lives.
Only 40% of services met the minimum standards for multidisciplinary care set by the International Association for the Study of Pain, where patients are seen by coordinated teams of psychologists, physiotherapists and doctors. Waiting times were also raised as a matter for concern, as although 80% of clinics in England and 50% in Wales met the government’s eighteen-week standard, the NPA recognised the severe effect on patients’ mental and physical health of enduring extended periods awaiting treatment.
Despite these shortcomings, the potential for specialist pain services to improve the lives of people with pain is emphasised by the audit’s report. More than half of clinics surveyed reported improvements in patients’ overall quality of life, with around 70% achieving a reduction in the severity of their pain. The NPA also heard many positive accounts of their experiences from service users, especially in terms of the support and advice they received. The report suggested that the benefits these services bring to patients might at the same time prove cost effective, appearing to reduce visits to A&E for emergency pain relief.
To see information about pain clinics in your area visit:
Thanks to a Big Lottery Fund grant of £8,023, Pain Concern’s Airing Pain radio show will produce four shows based in Northern Ireland. The Airing Pain team will visit pain services across the province, including pain management programmes in rural and urban areas, to hear from pain specialists and local people living with pain. The shows will especially focus on informing people in Northern Ireland of the support that is available to them and on empowering them to make use of these services.
Pain services are thinly spread throughout Northern Ireland, yet with 339,910 adults reported to live with chronic pain (19% of the population) it has the highest proportion of people living with pain in the whole of the UK. The number of patients admitted to hospital for pain management in Northern Ireland has nearly trebled within the last twelve years, further underlining the urgent need for information and support focusing on local issues and provision.
Dr Pamela Bell, chair of the Pain Alliance of Northern Ireland, said ‘I am delighted that Pain Concern have obtained funding for this series of shows.’ She explained the important contribution the shows can make, saying: ‘Those who suffer chronic pain often feel isolated, but radio helps them to feel connected to others in their community and to develop an understanding of their local pain services.’