GP commissioners reform access to primary pain care

Numbers of patients who benefit from pain services in Sheffield are to triple under reforms led by GP commissioners.

Dr Hart: ‘We have a great opportunity to put something new in place'
Dr Hart: ‘We have a great opportunity to put something new in place'

Sheffield GP Dr Oliver Hart, who has a special interest in chronic pain is leading a team of GPs and commissioners working on the reforms.

Sheffield PCT decided last year that it was spending too much on pain services for the benefit being achieved and that the service needed an overhaul, Dr Hart told GP. ‘We have a great opportunity to put something new in place,’ he said.

The PCT then launched a three-month consultation to decide what needed to change.
It decided to improve education about chronic pain throughout primary care and to widen access to health trainers.

The PCT will also be looking to improve information provided to patients about patient groups. ‘We’ll have the same money, but redistribute it in a more spread-around way,’ Dr Hart said. ‘In Sheffield, 1,500 people went through pain clinics last year, what we’re trying to do is widen it out, to perhaps have a service for 5,000 people.’

Under the old system, much of the pain budget was spent on secondary care services treating a small proportion of patients, Dr Hart explained. GP commissioning will help drive that change in care, he said.

‘It’s widely recognised that a bio-psycho-social approach is really the way forward with pain,’ he said. ‘The psycho-social stuff happens in primary care, or in patients’ own homes or work places, not in a specialist clinic,’ he said.

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