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Vancouver Sun article with Maria Hudspith speaking on the draft BC Provincial Pain Strategy

B.C. aims to implement provincial pain strategy: patients' advocate

Maria Hudspith says input included initiatives and policies that have worked elsewhere, including Australia, which has a national pain strategy.

The British Columbia government is working on a provincial pain strategy that would provide greater access to services for chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain and fibromyalgia, the head of a patients’ advocacy group says.

Maria Hudspith, executive director of PainBC, said a draft strategy has been completed for Health Minister Adrian Dix after consultations by his ministry with her group, patients, clinicians, researchers and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

Hudspith said input included initiatives and policies that have worked elsewhere, including Australia, which has a national pain strategy.

The strategy would set out guidelines for treatment and establish a connection between family doctors and other experts dealing in chronic pain and the use of opioids.

Ontario and Quebec are among provinces that have made investments in treating chronic pain by teams of experts such as primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and social workers as patients’ groups work to create co-ordinated pain management services.

“We are seeing provinces in different stages of development and we are the most far along in terms of having the most comprehensive strategy that I’ve certainly seen,” Hudspith said of B.C.’s draft pain strategy.

The Health Ministry said it is continuing to consult with stakeholders but did not provide details about its plans.

Researchers, clinicians and patients gathered in Vancouver last week as the annual Canadian Academy of Health Sciences called for a national pain strategy that would ensure regulatory standards are in place.

Hudspith said a national strategy would provide common policy standards for all patients.

“My worry is that we’re going to see this huge disparity across the country, where in B.C. we eventually get our provincial strategy and we have a lot of movement and positive change here but many other provinces, they have nothing.”

Health Canada said it is committed to working with the community though Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has not committed to a national pain strategy.

“The minister of health has asked departmental officials to consider a task force on pain to identify strengths, challenges and gaps in prevention and management of chronic pain in Canada,” the department said in a statement.

Continue reading this story in the Sun.


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