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National audit reveals lack of physiotherapy in pain services

Patients at nearly half of all pain clinics in England and Wales have no access to physiotherapy, according to the first national audit of pain services.

Findings from the National Pain Audit, conducted by the British Pain Society and Dr Foster Intelligence, reveal that patients with long-term pain experience a very low overall quality of life, but that pain services can make a substantial difference.

However, the report found that only 52 per cent of pain clinics in England and 60 per cent in Wales have access to physiotherapy.

Martin Hey, chair of the Physiotherapy Pain Association, said the audit highlighted the scale of the chronic pain problem in England and Wales and the challenges faced by both patients and healthcare providers.

‘We welcome the importance attached to the multidisciplinary model of specialist care and the audit’s recognition of the core contribution physiotherapy can make,’ said Mr Hey.

‘But it is disappointing that many services do not incorporate physiotherapy involvement, despite musculoskeletal pain being a key cause of chronic pain.'

The three-year study, which was commissioned by the Health Quality Improvement Partnership, is the first to measure the availability and activity of NHS specialist centres for the diagnosis and management of complex chronic pain disorders in England and Wales.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the National Pain Audit website.

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