The societal impact of pain – why we need to do more

In my capacity as Chair of the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group, I was invited to chair a workshop in Brussels today on the Societal Impact of Pain. The focus of the event was the future requirements, possibilities and promises of evidence-based medicine, personalised or stratified medicine in pain management.

Keynote presentations were delivered by a range of fantastic speakers, including: Audrey Craven (European Headache Alliance), Willem Scholten (WHO), Elisabetta Vaudano (Innovative Medicines Initiative), Peter Cremer-Schaeffer (Federal Opium Agency), Finn Børlum Kristensen (EUnetHTA), Marco Spizzichino (Italian Ministry of Health), Francois Meyer (Haute Autorité de Santé), Joan Carles March Cerdá (Andalusian School of Public Health), and Núria Paladio Duran (Catalan Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Research).

I was particularly impressed by Audrey Craven’s intervention, which opened the workshop. She focused on the perspective of patients, making it clear that they are the ones who benefit (or not) from decisions that are made. What’s more, she highlighted that all of us are potential patients. I totally agree with Audrey that patients not only need to be listened to and informed, but they also must be empowered to take control of their lives.

The fact is that pain is a major healthcare problem in Europe. According to a 2006-7 European Commission survey, a quarter of all citizens experienced pain affecting muscles, joints, neck or back, lasting for three months or more. Pain affects people’s ability to carry out their normal daily activities and can cause immense suffering. It also has an enormous societal cost. That’s why I, as an EU policy-maker, will be working hard to adopt a much wider, strategic perspective when deliberating with colleagues about service provision and resource allocation.

1 Comment

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One response to “The societal impact of pain – why we need to do more

  1. Daniel Oxley

    When the British public were conned into voting for membership of the Common Market no mention was made that eventually the organisation would morph into the EU and involve itself with medical matters.

    As well the EU’s even increasing intrusion into matters beyond their mandate it is also worth considering how likely it is to achieve any of its medical ambitions. Among its many failures is its pitiful record on financial management; its own accountants have said that they can only say how 8% of last year’s budget was spent and that the remaining 92% is subject to ‘fraud and irregularities’.

    How many of on hearing that our local hospital could only account for 8% of its budget would be enthusiastic about using such a badly organised place?

    It is difficult to be as impressed with Audrey Craven’s wisdom as Mary was. To state that it is patients who benefit or not from medical decisions is hardly earth shattering news. That we are all likely to be patients was hardly insightful and asserting that patients should be listened to was far from original.

    Did we really all have to pay taxes to have her shipped to Brussels to say these things? I am as good as most people when it comes to making a bland statement of the obvious, if they had asked me I would have emailed similar platitudes to Brussels for nothing.