Legislative Council Thursday 24 May, 2019
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
Tasmania has only one public clinic dealing with chronic pain, the Persistent Pain Clinic in Hobart at the Royal Hobart Hospital. This clinic has long waiting lists both for the initial information session and for a multidisciplinary assessment appointment. The waiting times, distance to treatment and need for multiple appointments mean patients from the north of the state are severely disadvantaged regarding access to care.
Nineteen local pain educators are to be trained in Tasmania to deliver pain education to patients in their local community, using funds raised by the 2019 Pain Revolution tour. No funding is available to enable these educators to deliver their pain education seminars following their training.
(1) Is the Government aware of any funding options to support these important pain management education sessions?
(2) Will the Government consider providing funding to a centrally based persistent pain management service in the north/north-west, ideally at the Mersey Community Hospital, to provide equity of access to care and education for chronic pain sufferers?
These are particularly pertinent questions following our more recent debate, Mr President.
Mr President, I thank the member for Murchison for her questions.
(1) The Government will release the first round of the Tasmanian Community Health Fund in the near future and the pain educators would be welcome to apply through this grants process.
(2) Funding has been allocated and a clinician was committed to operating a THS service in the north and north-west, but unfortunately prior to commencement took up another position. The Tasmanian Health Service is currently designing a model of care for the north and the northwest pain service.
In the meantime, to ensure patients in the north and north-west are receiving public treatment options for persistent pain, the Tasmanian Health Service is now progressing telehealth options, including consulting with the Royal Flying Doctor Service on utilising the Victorian pain pathway.
Flying Doctor Telehealth provides an appointment facilitator to book and join appointments for patients at their local health service. Patients with issues related to difficult chronic pain problems, those requiring opioid or non-opioid medication review and possible opioid misuse or dependence issues, are suitable for telehealth appointments. It is expected this service would be available within six weeks subject to negotiations.