"Chronic pain management services in South Tyneside"

About: South Tyneside District Hospital / General surgery Sunderland Royal Hospital / Pain Management

(as a staff member),

Chronic pain management service raised by HealthNet

HealthNet and individuals informed the LINk that this service was provided within South Tyneside District Hospital until 2008 when the consultant retired. There was no public consultation about this and patients first found out when a letter was sent informing them to go to Sunderland.

South Tyneside PCT commissioned Sunderland PCT to provide a service for South Tyneside users. Chronic pain sufferers now have to be assessed in a clinic in Washington then go to one of two hospitals in Sunderland for treatment. The consultant who provides the service in Sunderland is apparently willing to provide the service in South Tyneside.

The LINk has engaged the PCT on this issue and the PCT has stated publicly of the possibility of a pain management clinic being based within the new Cleadon Park Health Centre.

The LINk has requested that the PCT keep the LINk informed of any developments. The LINk is now engaging service users on their experiences in accessing the chronic pain management service in Sunderland.

The LINk then received information from the Practiced Based Commissioning Department of the PCT re an audit of the chronic pain management service.

A locum GP is carrying an audit of patients who present to GPs with musculoskeletal related pain. This GP will also look at best practice. The audit is planned to be completed by January 2010.

A questionnaire is being rolled out in GP practices and in December.

A professionals meeting to map current services is planned.

A patient focused group is being formed.

PCT PPI team is to ensure individuals and agencies are involved.

In response to this the LINk has requested the following:

An audit is being carried out of patients who present to GPs with musculoskeletal pain. The LINk understands that the range of conditions under the umbrella of chronic pain is wider than just musculoskeletal conditions and therefore should the audit be widened?

A locum GP, is carrying out this audit, can you please inform the LINk what experience this GP has in the field of pain management?

You mention a questionnaire being rolled out in December, can the LINk have site of this questionnaire and if appropriate comment on this or make any suggestions as to its content?

You mentioned the PCT PPI team involving various agencies, may we suggest the following to be included in this process: LINk Governance Group, LINk user reference groups, LINk individual membership and HealthNet.

The LINk still feels it has not had the full terms of reference given to Dr Taylor can the LINk have access to this?

Once the audit is completed can any recommendations before they are implemented be discussed at the following forums; LINk Governance Group, LINk membership forum, The Children and Young People and Healthy Lives Select Committee, HealthNet and the PCT Local Engagement Board meeting?

The LINk have been informed the current contact with City Hospitals Sunderland is for 50 new patient referrals per year and they are delivering 83 patient referrals, as for reviews they are contracted to see 60 patients and have seen 70 patients.

Can you please inform the LINk how many patients in the 3 years before the clinician providing the service retired in April 2008 did the chronic pain management service based in South Tyneside see as

1. new patients

2. patient reviews

The LINk has also commenced collecting evidence of the patient experience of accessing the current chronic pain management service. We have written to all our members and had an article published in the Gazette. Attached is a letter sent to the LINk by a service user who wishes to remain anonymous:

Letter re the patient experience of the pathway in accessing the Chronic Pain Management Service based in Sunderland

Dear Mr Young

Thank you for your letter ref the pain management at South Tyneside. I went to see my GP about a year ago because I had been suffering from severe pain on the back of my right thigh radiating down to the leg and up to the heel, this was preceded by severe tingling and some times loss of sensation in the heel.

He referred me to the Orthopaedic surgeon who ordered X-Rays and MRI Scan after which he told me that I had a narrowed hole in my spine through which the nerve passes and therefore was trapped. He suggested surgery of the back which would mean I had to stay at home for about 8 wks after the surgery. I care for my husband and no family member could help at this time so I declined surgery. He then suggested that I see the Consultant in pain management at Washington.

I was surprised to hear that the pain clinic at the S Tyneside hospital had been shut down and all patients from this area had to go to Washington where the clinic was run by Sunderland Royal Hospital. I know many of my friends and acquaintances have attended S Tyneside hospital and the clinic had been popular with patients so could not understand why this clinic had been closed.

I got an appointment to attend the clinic at Washington and decided to go there by my own car. Not knowing whether there was a car park at the clinic I parked in the shopping centre and walked. This was a long walk and also not flat and there fore had considerable difficulty in walking. I complained to the Dr at which point he said if he was asked he would provide a clinic at South Tyneside, as far as he knew there was no Consultant with special interest in pain and this is why the clinic had been shut down at S Tyneside.

The Dr prescribed some tablets, and a TENS machine which is a small machine to help with pain. However the machine was given by the Pain Management Sister who would also teach me how to use this machine and she was based at Monkwearmouth Hosp. I had to make another appointment and go there which again took time and driving. Dr also advised that I have a Caudal Injection which is an injection in the base of the spine and would be done under X-Ray control at the Sunderland Hospital. This meant I had yet another trip for which I had to ask a friend to drive me there because I was not allowed to drive.

People in pain do not need to have to go to three places for a single issue, as it is they are (like I was) in considerable pain for some length of time. Many of the people I know have stopped going to the clinic and are in considerable pain but would not go through the bother of so much time and travel. I do feel this is an important service that should be provided in South Tyneside for South Tyneside patients.

I do believe recruiting a Consultant could take some time but the Dr at Sunderland could be and is willing to be appointed to run a clinic for people of this area.

I will be thankful for your help in the matter

A Pain Clinic User

South Tyneside LINk has on file the name of the lady who wrote this letter

The LINk have been informed by two people who suffer from chronic pain that they will not refer themselves to the clinic as they are aware of the difficulty in accessing the service.


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