Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (2067)
Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September 2021:
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health and relates to chronic pain.
One in five Victorians are affected by chronic pain. Nationally over 3 million Australians live with chronic pain, which results in more than $73 billion in lost productivity annually.
It is debilitating.
Despite its prevalence, sufferers continue to feel stigmatised, particularly when interacting with medical professionals.
Interactions can involve ignorance or the thinly veiled suspicion of addiction. Patients often feel forced to prove their diagnosis is legitimate, over and over again.
Honestly, it’s just not fair, where life is already made harder by this pain, for that suffering to be compounded by stigma from the very professionals meant to understand and help.
So the action I seek is that the minister take specific steps to address this problem and enhance the professional understanding of chronic pain via dedicated education and training across the Victorian health system.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 17/8/22
As part of Victoria’s commitment to ensure Victorian’s have access to specialist chronic pain services, the Victorian government’s 2018 election commitment for an additional 500,000 specialist appointments for regional Victorians, included improving access to specialist chronic pain services. As a result, four new chronic pain clinics commenced in Bairnsdale, Hamilton, Horsham and Swan Hill during 2021-22. Albury-Wodonga Health, Bendigo Health, Grampians Health – Ballarat, Goulburn Valley Health, and Latrobe Regional Hospital were allocated additional funding to expand their existing specialist chronic pain services.
Victoria now has 20 dedicated multidisciplinary chronic pain clinics provided through public hospitals across the state. These services provide specialist assessment, diagnosis, intervention, management, education, and support to clients with moderate to severe chronic non-malignant pain. State-wide referral criteria have been implemented to improve appropriate and equitable access to these services.
The introduction of the SafeScript clinical tool provides doctors and pharmacists with a comprehensive history about the supply of high-risk medicines to their patients, to enable more informed and safer clinical decisions about further supply. This is supported by availability of expert specialist advice through the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service phoneline to help GPs support patients with prescription medicine concerns and complex needs. Additional wrap-around support for prescribers and pharmacists includes online SafeScript training resources to assist with safer patient care.
A capacity-building project has also been funded to provide specialist training to clinicians in regional and rural areas with a video-conferencing platform. The Project ECHO in the Management of Chronic Pain and Opioids is a collaboration between Royal Melbourne Hospital Pain Service and St Vincent’s Hospital Addiction Service and is delivered through a ‘hub and spoke’ model.
The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP
Minister for Health
Minister for Ambulance Services