Achievements so far

We are currently undertaking a review of progress of the National Pain Strategy. 

So far 45 health care providers and consumer organisations and 19 Medicare Locals that are implementing programs that align with goals of the Strategy have provided Painaustralia with information for the review. We are aware other organisations are yet to report on activities they are undertaking, and where possible we have included reference to this work. This review is an important step in trying to scope the range of activities underway and help to facilitate greater consistency and collaboration as well as to assess the still significant gaps and identify how we can begin to address them. 

You can download a copy of the draft review document here.

Review of Progress with NPS IN REVISION 28 July Page 01

 The report will remain in draft form until such time as we manage to collect all relevant input. We invite comment and any additional input from you - please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call us on 02 9310 6086 if you have any queries. 


In the past three years, recommendations of the
National Pain Strategy have been adopted in a number of health jurisdictions. 

New South Wales and Queensland are implementing state-wide pain management plans, and a total of 14 new regional pain centres have opened up in three states (NSW, QLD and Victoria). Progress is being made to improve access to education and training for health professionals, consumer resources are being developed and new research has been funded. Progress is also being made in raising awareness about chronic pain through the media.

However, until we have a coordinated national approach to this important issue, the work will be fragmented and underfunded. It's time to make pain a national health priority.


At a national level

The National Pain Strategy calls for the seamless integration of interdisciplinary care between community, primary and tertiary levels, delivered in a timely fashion so as to effectively prevent and manage chronic pain.

The progress made so far is impressive, and after three years of hard work, it's time to review progress and plan for the next stage. Success will require national leadership – and we need to capitalise on progress thus far in a strategic and targeteted way. Major barriers still exist, and we have a way to go. There is looming concern with the upcoming federal budget and the threat of potential cuts to funding of Medicare Locals, which have paved the way for inter and multidisciplinary coordinated care, especially within the primary care sector.

Former Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, expressed in principle support for the Strategy and strongly encouraged the work that is being done through Medicare Locals to develop community pain education and early intervention at primary care level. However the lack of a suitably trained multidisciplinary workforce and an appropriately funded model of care are still major areas of concern. 

Perth North Metro Medicare Local has developed a model of care known as STEPS (Self Training Educative Pain Sessions) which is providing effective outcomes, substantially reducing waiting times at pain clinics in WA, GP visits and demand for surgery as well as reliance on medication. There are opportunities to replicate this or develop similar programs in other areas.

Currently there is a major shortage of services especially in regional and remote areas.  There is potential to address this to some extent through Telehealth, provided that metropolitan and regional pain centres have the expanded capacity needed to provide such services.

The NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, is leading a national effort to have chronic pain appropriately recognised as a chronic disease and managed within a chronic disease framework and funding model. The state is also leading the development of a national pain management outcomes database, through Wollongong University.

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At a state level

To date, five states and the ACT have endorsed the National Pain Strategy and are taking steps to implement its recommendations.

ACT 

ACT Health has released the ACT Chronic Conditions Strategy 2013-18, in which chronic pain is identified as a separate chronic condition, not a symptom of other chronic diseases.

Setting a direction for the care and support of people living with chronic conditions in the ACT over the next five years, the strategy represents an important step in the push for chronic pain to be recognised as a national health priority.

$1.5 million was allocated for pain services enabling the appointment of a pain specialist as Director for the pain clinic at Canberra Hospital and the further development of its multidisciplinary pain services.

QLD

Queensland Health allocated funding of $39.1 million in 2010 over four years. This has enabled the establishment of three new regional Persistent Pain Management Services (PPMS) in North Queensland (Townsville), Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, in addition to a new community based Persistent Pain Management Service within the Metro South Hospital and Health Service of metropolitan Brisbane, to augment the existing service at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

The centres provide consultations via Telehealth services for patients in rural and remote areas and organise regular general practitioner interest group meetings. Patient fact sheets have been developed to assist patients with self-management strategies. These are available at the services and on the Queensland Health Persistent Pain website.

NSW

New South Wales launched a Statewide Pain Management Plan in 2012, with funding of $26 million over four years. This has enabled the establishment of four new regional pain centres in Port Macquarie, Port Kembla, Tamworth and Orange hospitals, enhancement of services in Lismore Hospital and the development of a multidisciplinary regional children's service at John Hunter Children's Hospital.

The NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) Pain Network is leading a number of initiatives that have the potential to be of benefit nationally including:

  • Development of evidence-based clinical resources for pain management for primary care health practitioners, which will be valuable tools for use within Medicare Locals.
  • Development of a web based consumer educational resource and service directory.
  • An outreach program to provide access to paediatric pain services in regional areas.
  • A pain outcomes database to enable the systematic collection and evaluation of data, being developed by Wollongong University in collaboration with the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and health authorities in other states.


NSW Health also made the first major ongoing commitment by any Australian government to fund basic and clinical research, through the Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney.

VIC

Victoria Health committed $9.3 million to its Subacute Ambulatory Service (SACS), after a review of pain services in the state identified pain as a growth area. The funding established new interdisciplinary pain clinics in the regional centres of Shepparton and Traralgon, in addition to the regional clinics already operating at hospitals in Ballarat, Bendigo and Barwon.

WA

WA Health has expanded its service model for Community-Based Musculoskeletal Health to include pain with a focus on better integration of tertiary and primary care. This follows the earlier initiatives to incorporate pain management into the state's Spinal Cord and Inflammatory Diseases Health Networks.

The STEPS (Self Training Educative Pain Sessions) community education and early intervention program at Perth North Metro Medicare Local is providing a fine example of what can be done at primary care level to reduce reliance on GP visits and relieve pressure on the tertiary pain clinics, while WA Health's recently launched painHealth website provides high quality information and advice on the management of musculoskeletal pain.

A new initiative, funded with a generous private grant will see formal education in chronic pain management become an integral part of under-graduate medical education at Notre Dame University, Fremantle – the first for any university in Australia.

SA

South Australia: Having acknowledged the National Pain Strategy and the potential to integrate this into SA Health's Statewide Clinical Networks, there has been no follow up action by the SA government to date.

TAS

Tasmania Health has commenced development of a statewide pain strategy that will see expansion of much needed services into north and western regions of the state. The health department is undertaking this work in collaboration with Royal Hobart Hospital Pain Clinic, public hospitals in regional centres and the Tasmanian Medicare Locals.

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