A survey of acute pain services in the UK

The organisational state of inpatient pain management in UK hospitals is difficult to determine. We sent an electronic questionnaire to 209 acute pain service leads throughout the UK | Anaesthesia

Questions were about staffing and service provision. We received 141 responses (67%); 47% of all UK hospitals.

Each service was responsible for a median (IQR [range]) of 566 (400–839 [120–2800]) beds. Each acute pain specialist nurse was responsible for 299 (238–534 [70–1923]) beds. The mean (SD) number of consultant hours per week was 5.54 (4.62), delivered by a median of 1.0 (1.0–2.5 [0.2–7.0]) consultant. Overnight cover was provided by 20 (15%) acute pain services, and weekend cover by 39 (29%).

Acute pain services commonly (in 50 (35%) hospitals) had roles in addition to acute pain management. Most teams (105, (77%)) reviewed medical patients and patients with chronic pain (in 131, (96%) teams). Half of the services (56, (49%)), reported that they were part of an integrated acute and chronic pain service, however, 83 (59%) did not have any members who work in chronic pain clinics. The majority (79, (70%)) were able to access a nominated chronic pain consultant for advice.

Provision of acute pain services throughout the UK is highly variable. The majority do not meet core UK standards.

Full reference: Rockett, M. et al. (2017) A survey of acute pain services in the UK. Anaesthesia. Vol. 72 (Issue 10) pp. 1237–1242.

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