As far back as June 2017, we visited a pain service in Lincolnshire to collate patient experiences. During the visit we found out that:
- Only 1 in 4 people thought they had spoken to the person who could help with their pain.
- Only 1 in 4 people felt involved in the development of their pain management care plan.
- Only 8% felt the interventions, treatments and help was appropriate and helped them manage the pain.
In 2018 we were informed that commissioners intended by early 2019 to change the patient and service pathway for Pain Management, to make it more community based with care closer to home and greater focus on the psychological impact of pain. However, at the same time patients were contacting us to tell us that they had been informed a pain clinic had been closed and moved to a new location.
‘My relative has been told that the Lincoln pain clinic has now closed and so their appointment will be in Louth. Only trouble with that is the treatment they are having means they can’t drive. Volunteer transport are willing to drive them back home to Lincoln because they won’t be allowed to drive but they won’t take them to the appointment because technically they are ok to drive there as they won’t have had the treatment yet’.
It is was clear from patient feedback that the messages going to the patients were not consistent in terms of what services were being delivered and where.
We were concerned that patients may not be able to attend appointments and receive their treatments if they are unable to travel.
We not only heard about the physical impact on people not being able to access treatments but also the impact mentally on patients and to their wider families, for example the impact on their employment which accompanies the need to support someone living with long term pain.
During the past year Healthwatch Lincolnshire has kept proposed changes to Pain Management services on our radar.
As a result of our work on this issue which included an escalation paper and continual liaison with providers and commissioners, the following actions occurred:
- Healthwatch was invited to be represent the patient voice as part of the commissioning assessment process.
- We were asked to comment on patient correspondence regarding changes to the service, which resulted in changes to the letters.
- We have been able to provide a large number of patients information, updates and signposting advice with regards to the new pain management service provider.
‘Further to your comment on a post re pain clinics my partner was told by their GP that there wasn’t any pain clinics anymore, this was after they had asked to be referred to one. This was about four weeks ago’