Australians living with chronic pain will have access to 20 new Medicare-funded services to help manage their suffering under a new national strategy.
AAP reports, the plan also calls for a new pain medicine certificate that would encourage doctors to prescribe fewer drugs to deal with pain, instead ordering exercise and psychological management strategies.
Doctors could get the certificate through six months of study, according to the Daily Telegraph, while a new website would be launched to educate people more broadly about managing pain without drugs.
The strategy has been developed by Pain Australia, with the federal government committing funding.
It will be presented to the states and territories for endorsement at the Council of Australian Governments’ meeting in the coming weeks.
The plan comes as one in five Australians is living with chronic pain, including some adolescents and children.
The prevalence rises to one in three people over 65.
Pain Australia chief executive Carol Bennett says doctors’ knowledge of the newest techniques to help people deal with pain are outdated.
“For lower back pain people are popping pills and having surgery but for the last 15 years we’ve known you’ve got to get moving, and rehabilitate yourself with physical management,” she’s told the Daily Telegraph.
Under the plan, people will have access to a public database where they can learn which health professionals have completed the new pain course.
Doctors would also have access to special Medicare rebates if they have completed the program.