Hospital staffing levels need urgent review to ensure patient safety
Staffing levels and safety protocols must be urgently reviewed for specialist pain services to ensure patients at risk receive consistently safe treatment.
An audit has recommended that staff across a range of services receive specialist training to ensure that key patient assessments can be conducted consistently and that safety is not jeopardised.
The report, conducted by the British Pain Society and Dr. Foster Intelligence, says that safety protocols should be revised to ensure that mental health risk assessments and reviews of missed diagnoses can be included.
It goes on to mention that appropriately skilled staff are often unavailable to carry out specialist pain work when it is required.
Other actions identified in the report call for definition of patient needs and a better integration of services, as well as clearer understanding of the mix of skills used while caring for patients.
The audit also outlines expectations that professionals working in pain services, such as in the case of acute care for post-surgery patients or chronic pain sufferers, should work closely in order to match specialist skills with specific types of care.
Previous research has shown that nearly 7.6 million working days were lost due to work-related back pain or other musculoskeletal disorders.
The report recommends that pain professionals must partner with vocational rehabilitation specialists, in order to return patients to work sooner.
Dr. Cathy Price, Clinical Lead for the National Pain Audit commented on the release of the audit report, saying: "Chronic pain is an ever-present problem common among many people today, and we absolutely have to have specialist NHS centres and complex pain professionals who are there to meet their needs.
"The audit published today shows how these needs are not always being met. Recommendations on skilling up the workforce, inviting joint working and integration are all steps in the right direction.
"What both the British Pain Society and Dr. Foster Intelligence have identified here is that patient pain and their mental health are closely linked, therefore it is vital that those specialist health professionals are closely aligned, too".