Published: 04 October 2017

Legislative Council Wednesday 27 September 2017


Tasmanians with chronic pain require regular and often frequent access to pain specialists.  Many north-west and west coast residents have to travel to Hobart to access this care.  Those suffering chronic pain should be able to access specialist care closer to their homes due to the chronic nature of their condition and the exacerbation of their symptoms when required to travel long distances to access this care.

(1)     Are pain specialists being actively recruited to the north-west coast? 

(2)     If so, what progress has been made?  If not, why not? 

(3)     Will this be considered in the near future? 

(4)     How are the needs of north-west and west-coast patients being met in this area?


Madam Acting President, I thank the member for Murchison for her question. 

(1) to (4)

The Tasmanian Health Service - THS - will be bringing new services, including for rheumatology and pain management, on line for the north west community in line with the Government's white paper.  This is, therefore, a service improvement in development. 

It is important to note that developing a sustainable model for pain management services in the north-west has been an ongoing challenge for many years now with recruitment made difficult in the context of national shortages.  Care in the north-west is currently being managed by patients' local general practitioners with specialist referral relevant to the condition, including referral to the Hobart unit if appropriate.  The THS is developing statewide musculoskeletal services over the next 12 months that will include planning for musculoskeletal triage, spinal assessment, regional joint assessment and statewide integrated pain and rheumatology.

This service design work is crucial to inform the service design and recruitment plan for improved statewide pain services, including for the north-west.  The THS is also working to deliver improved telehealth service capabilities and capacities in the north and north west.

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