FPM Board meeting update

25 May 2022

Read a report of the FPM Board meeting held on 10 April 2022.


2022 FPM Board appointments
The faculty is pleased to announce the appointment of incoming board member Dr Dilip Kapur, FANZCA, FFPMANCA, from South Australia, as the new Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine.

Dr Kapur has recently re-joined the Board after having previously served as a Board Member from 2013-2015. Dr Kapur brings with him a wealth and depth of experience in pain medicine and service to the faculty.  We wish him well for his term in office as a board member and as the FPM Vice-Dean.

We also welcome Satualafa’alagilagi Dr Leinani Salamasina Aiono-Le Tagaloa, FANZCA, FFPMANZCA, from New Zealand who has been co-opted to the board alongside elected board members Professor Michael Veltman, FANZCA, FFPMANZCA from Western Australia, and Dr Noam Winter, FANZCA FFPMANZCA from Victoria, who will each commence their term on the board on the 1 May. 

New DPA Education role
Dr Melissa Viney has been appointed to the new position of FPM DPA Education. This is a critical resource for the strategic development of faculty training, and Dr Viney has a wealth of experience with the faculty training program and medical education more broadly, having undertaken postgraduate academic work in this area. We look forward to her contributions during the term of her appointment.

New Executive Director – NZ
Stephanie Clare joined the college on 7 March 2022 in the role of Executive Director, New Zealand.  Stephanie has worked for the past six years as the Chief Executive Officer of Age Concern New Zealand.  The faculty welcomes her to the team, particularly at this important time as New Zealand heralds in health service reforms mid-year.

AMC and MCNZ re-accreditationNew chair FPM Research Committee (previously the Research & Innovation Committee)
The faculty welcomed Dr Martine O’Neill as the new chair of the FPM Research Committee, taking over the reins from Dr Chris Hayes who stepped down earlier this year.

Education and training

FPM Orientation to pain medicine training
The orientation to pain medicine training was held on Saturday 26 February via Zoom. Twenty-two trainees attended and the program was facilitated by FPM Dean, Associate Professor Michael Vagg, Dr Tipu Aamir, Dr Harry Eeman and Dr Kate Drummond. This was a great opportunity for trainees to be introduced to each other and share why they sought to become a pain medicine physician. Trainees were also provided with an overview of the training program and its curriculum.
Opioid calculator
Dr Murray Taverner has been appointed as the Board Sponsor for the FPM Opioid Calculator App and website.

Better Pain Management
The BPM Uplift Working Group, chaired by Board Sponsor Dr Murray Taverner, have been reviewing the first three modules of the Better Pain Management program. Revised modules are expected to be uploaded onto the system in August.

Procedures Endorsement Program
Four new Supervisors of Procedural Training attended the workshop on 24th of March and will begin supervising SCEP endorsees. Members of the Procedures in Pain Medicine Committee continue their collaboration with the Victorian WorkSafe working party on pain management. At the request of WorkSafe, this group is reviewing procedures but will, in time, extend to other areas of pain management.

National strategy for health practitioner pain management education
In February and March the FPM project team conducted additional stakeholder consultations separately with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and clinicians working within Aboriginal health and then with representatives from culturally and linguistically diverse community groups. The draft strategy document has now been distributed for external feedback, and once finalised, will be submitted to government on 30 June, 2022. Abstract submissions were successful for: ANZCA ASM (presentation); Australian Pain Society ASM in Hobart in April (workshop); and the IASP conference in Canada in October (workshop). 


MBS changes 

The implementation of the pain management reforms to the MBS on 1 March 2022 required a high level of involvement by FPM in liaising with senior members of the implementation group at the Department of Health. There were significant issues with the interpretation of the intentions of the Taskforce and our advocacy resulted in amendments being made to the wording of item numbers regarding radiofrequency treatments. There are ongoing concerns regarding accessibility of treatments including pulsed radiofrequency and PENS which will require further consultation.

The implementation of these amendments also provided a significant opportunity to highlight to the community what was missing from the amendments. There was a complete lack of response to the recommendation that all SPMPs be able to access the 132/3 item number for complex consultations. Recommendations regarding extending Medicare coverage for community-based multidisciplinary groups and case conferences, as well as removing the anomaly which requires patients to be sent back to their GP for a Chronic Disease Management plan to be able to see allied health practitioners were referred to the future Primary Care Review for which no date has been set and at which pain management will be a very minor player among the competing interests.

We did not collaborate for three years on the MBS review expecting to come away with $40 million of reduced funding and no solution to any of the systemic problems that we raised. The lack of Medicare funding for community-based pain management teams is possibly the single biggest barrier in the Australian health system to growing our specialty and meeting the needs of the chronically overwhelmed public hospital pain clinics.

Hence, with an election due within two months, we judged that the time was right to take a more direct approach to advocacy. We liaised with our partners at Chronic Pain Australia, the Neuromodulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, and a number of other consumer groups to inform a campaign called Ease the Pain. Based around a website (easethepain.com.au), participants are encouraged to share their stories about lack of affordability and accessibility of pain management services under Medicare with political candidates and sitting local members.

The goal of this campaign is to elevate the importance of the issue in the eyes of politicians by direct contact with their campaigns. All fellows are encouraged to make their patients and patients' families and carers aware of the website and encourage them to share their experiences so that their voices are heard and our advocacy is taken more seriously at the highest levels of government. The Communications team have worked with us to provide a handout for patients under the faculty letterhead, as well as some preselected talking points to help explain the situation easily and consistently.

New Zealand Ministry of Health Model of Care update

Across the Tasman, the FPM Expert Advisory Group representatives working with the New Zealand Department of Health on a new national model of care for pain care delivery have progressed the project to its final stages. While much change is still expected with the implementation of major health reforms, this project has provided an enormous opportunity for our fellows to have access to senior bureaucrats and impress upon them the importance of comprehensive, expert pain care rather than providing a patchwork of providers performing individual facets of the required work. Our expectation is that, with some input into the design of how pain is managed at a health system level, there should be more seamless integration of regional with local services and improved equity of access.

Meeting with the Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management

The Dean and Executive Director had the opportunity to give a personal briefing, on Wednesday 23 March, to the bipartisan co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management, Sen Wendy Askew from Tasmania, and Mr David Smith MP from Canberra. They were briefed about the faculty and its role within the pain management sector, as well as our major projects with TGA funding of Better Pain Management modules and the National Health Practitioner Education Strategy Project.

We also had the opportunity to raise our concerns regarding the MBS review and the need for ongoing work to address the significant equity of access and affordability issues within the Australian health system. We were delighted to hear that both co-chairs committed to reconstituting the group when the new parliament convenes after the election and to meeting with the faculty again to continue the conversations.


National pain research alliance

Work on the National Research Alliance is gaining momentum, with Mark Hutchinson elected as chair following the resignation of Chris Hayes. Key themes identified from recent roundtable discussions include resounding support for the formation of the alliance, the need for reverse translation and the impact on consumers, the development of key strategies, as well as developing relationships with key stakeholders.

Professional affairs

Professional documents
Board approved the following professional document:
PS12(PM) Position statement on the use of ketamine in the management of chronic non-cancer pain (including its background paper) as the definitive version.


Last updated 12:29 25.05.2022