For many people, pain is a temporary discomfort associated with injury, illness or post-surgery. However, when pain becomes chronic (persistent or recurrent for 3 months of longer), it has a deep impact on quality of life as people living with pain become excluded from community, work or education.
With at least one in five Australians living experiencing chronic pain today, it is an escalating health issue and carries a significant economic burden in lost productivity and health costs. Addressing pain is in the interests of all Australians.
Yet many people living with pain cannot get access to best practice pain management, often due to cost, location or low awareness of treatment options, and medication is playing an increasing role. To date, pain has not been a national health policy priority, despite its significant impact on people’s lives.
The Australian government announced support for the development of the first ever National strategic action plan for pain management (the Action Plan) in May 2018. The Action Plan sets out the key priority actions to improve access to, and knowledge of best practice pain management, in the next three years.
Painaustralia, the national peak body working to improve the quality of life for people living with pain, has consulted widely with consumers and consumer groups, clinicians, allied health practitioners, key health groups, researchers, experts and the whole community to understand what people think the key priorities are for the Action Plan.
The Action Plan also leverages and builds on key activities taking place at a state and territory level and through primary health networks (PHNs) that have increased community awareness of pain management, integrated services, provided education and training for health practitioners and invested in pain services. The Action Plan also seeks to foster innovation in service design and delivery.