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Cost effectiveness of pain clinics are put into question.

A transcript of a lecture given by Peter Yellowless (PE) at a British Pain Society Philosophy and Ethics meeting was published in Pain News in March 2012. In these times of austerity it makes very interesting reading as it suggests that pain clinics are anything but cost effective.

PE states that it costs £80m per year to run the UK pain services and that they see only 0.04% of the population. £80m would pay for Childline for four years or for 11,000 hip replacements.

Further he quotes IASP News in January 2011: “The outcome literature suggests that only a minority of patients with chronic non-cancer pain show measurable benefit from ANY of the treatments commonly used for this condition.” The patients helped may temporarily get up to 50% pain relief.

Analysis of the figures suggests that a patient gaining ANY measurable benefit costs £7500. Further to this the average duration of pain before getting into a pain management programme is eight years!

So, is that good value? Would people be better served by having their pain addressed sooner rather than later? Is the it worth this sort of money to help such a small number of people not very much and often only temporarily? Are there practitioners outside the NHS who are willing and capable of helping non-cancer pain sufferers sooner and more effectively? Questions that need answering through thorough research and evaluation.

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