ANZCAFriday 02 November 2012, 3:57PM
Media release from ANZCA
Up to one in five New Zealanders estimated to suffer from chronic
pain will be the big winners of a Medical Council of New Zealand
decision to recognise pain medicine as a specialty in its own
right, say pain medicine specialists.
The Medical Council has accredited pain medicine as a scope of
practice In New Zealand, giving formal recognition to this medical
specialty and its associated qualification. The new scope and
qualification come into effect on December 3 this year. The
accreditation follows a lengthy application process undertaken by
the Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM) of the Australian and New
Zealand College of Anaesthetists.
"This keenly awaited decision recognises the importance of pain
medicine as a field requiring specialised skills and qualities to
address the epidemic of people suffering in pain in our
communities," FPM Dean Associate Professor Brendan Moore says.
"Pain medicine emphasises a holistic, all-encompassing approach to
the management of pain including the physical, psychological and
emotional consequences of this common but poorly understood and
under-treated medical problem.
"This puts the practice of pain medicine in New Zealand on the same
footing as in Australia, where it has been recognised as a
stand-alone specialist qualification since 2005. There is now a
single unified training and accreditation system, and
qualification, for recognising pain medicine specialist physicians
across Australia and New Zealand.
"Australian and New Zealand specialists with backgrounds in
anaesthesia, surgery, rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry and
general medicine have worked together for 15 years to establish and
progress the training, examination and continuing professional
development of pain medicine specialists.
"The Medical Council's decision recognises these achievements and
the expertise of New Zealand specialists who have contributed to
the development of this specialty in New Zealand, Australia and
internationally. Both our immediate past dean and current vice dean
are New Zealanders," Associate Professor Moore says.
FPM Vice Dean, Professor Ted Shipton of Christchurch, says that
while New Zealand already has some pain medicine specialists, lack
of formal Medical Council accreditation has limited development of
"We expect this recognition to lead to a growth of interest in the
specialty and more training places opening up here in New Zealand,
where such specialists are desperately needed."
Professor Shipton says pain is the most common reason for patients
consulting health care professionals.
"Data from the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey showed that one in
six New Zealanders (16.9%) suffered from chronic pain with other
estimates putting the figure at about 20 per cent, an incidence
that is even higher among the elderly. This makes chronic pain -
which has a profound effect on the sufferer, their family and
society as a whole - a critical public health problem in New
"The proper management of pain remains one of the most important
obligations of a physician. Acute pain has a warning or protective
function but, if not managed properly, it becomes chronic pain,"
Professor Shipton explains.
"We can now look forward to better care of all New Zealanders who
suffer from pain, provided the Ministry of Health and district
health boards pick up the challenge to adequately resource and
expand acute and chronic pain management services in New