LEO BAXENDALE has almost finished one of the unit’s programs and says it’s been “inspiring”.
“It’s helped to manage the pain by understanding what pain is and what it can and can’t do to you, the implications of medicating and the benefits of slowly but surely developing an exercise technique to manage the pain,” he says.
His back has been giving him grief on and off since the 1970s when he had a disc removed. He’s seen his share of physios but says they often trot out the same old exercise routine because it’s all they know.
Another patient says addiction, side-effects such as headaches and reduced effectiveness of medications with prolonged use are all common problems facing people in chronic pain.
“It is not a safe service for patients if doctors are used that do not have a sufficient level of experience and expertise in chronic pain.”
She says when the unit transfers to FSH in February it will no longer be able to use the old Woodside maternity hospital in East Fremantle, where patients go now for the STEPS and PUMPS programs: “These premises have been a haven for us with a quiet environment, outdoor areas to exercise, ample free parking and the ability to park right next to the wheelchair ramp and entries for those who struggle to walk.
“Parking at Fiona Stanley Hospital will be costly for patients attending programs that run for up to five weeks.”
Labor health shadow Roger Cook says the health department is using false economics if it thinks downgrading staff will save money.
He says the loss of expertise will see the unit flounder when it re-opens, and that is inefficient.
“It’s ridiculous. All the advantages you will gain from the move will be lost because of mismanaging the staff.”
Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk says the unit’s programs make a difference to hundreds of lives.
“Patients speak of this non-drug approach to chronic pain management being crucial in them being able to function, and they are incredulous that the program is being cut,” she says.
“Remember, this is a burgeoning area of medical science. Notre Dame university is about to appoint a chair in chronic pain education.
“It’s obvious that the Barnett government is using the commissioning of Fiona Stanley Hospital to cut existing health programs to fund their hopeless budget management.”
by STEVE GRANT