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BPS in the media

The Society has taken part in a number of interviews for leading publishers both online and print and with broadcasters on television and the radio. Please see below for details of the latest coverage:

The Times
15th October 2010

Copy of letter from AMRC Charities to The Times. The British Pain Society is a member of AMRC.

Our work benefits millions of patients across the UK. Last year alone the 124 members of the Association of Medical Research Charities funded more than £1 billion of medical and health research. As a proportion of public expenditure that is more than any other country. This contribution is driven by the combined efforts of volunteers, supporters, donors, clinicians, scientists and patients themselves. If ever there was an example of the "Big Society" in action this is it.
Ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) we have asked the coalition Government to sustain science funding and ensure an environment that allows charities to fund research on behalf of patients. Failure to do so will lead to the UK losing its position as an international leader in science. Additional unacceptable strictures on research, such as the proposed cap on non-EU migrants, can only fuel concerns that our future scientists will be expected to work with one hand tied behind their backs.
Ministers are mistaken if they believe that charities are a substitute for Government expenditure. One of the great strengths of UK science is the synergy that exists between public, charitable and industry sources of funding. Only last week we saw evidence of what this collaboration can mean with the bowel-screening announcement heralded at the Conservative Party conference. It is such progress and the opportunity to improve health and wellbeing that has enabled us to build public support for research, support that leverages funding from other sources for the common good.
We recognise the very difficult decisions facing George Osborne. But in these final days before the CSR announcement he may wish to reflect on the comment by the American health activist Mary Lasker: "If you think research is expensive, try disease.

Yours faithfully,
AMRC member charities"

The Times - Raconteur Supplement on 'Pain Management'
28th September 2010

A 12 page supplement from Raconteur Media, with input and comment from the British Pain Society: http://np.netpublicator.com/?id=n69626218

BBC News Online
20th May 2010

Acupuncture pain molecule pinpointed

Comment from the British Pain Society: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/10185247.stm

28th April 2009

Chronic Pain Services in the UK at a Watershed: a New Dawn?

Guest Editorial by Dr Joan Hester: http://imi.newsweaver.ie/-nitcze1rrr

28th April 2009

The British Pain Society, Annual Scientific Meeting 2009

Conference highlights: http://imi.newsweaver.ie/-nitcze1rrr

BBC News Online
5th December 2008

Warning over internet painkillers

Dr Hester, President, gave a comment. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7764971.stm

Radio Insight
28 May 2008, 12.15pm GMT

Dr William Campbell, Honorary Secretary gave a phone interview on the Daily Lunch Show with Jill Daley, answering the question "what is pain?"

BBC Radio Merseyside
17 April 2008, 07.15 GMT

Transcript of interview with Dr Joan Hester.

What sort of pain do you deal with in the Pain Society?

We deal largely with chronic pain, so a lot of it is back pain, about 50% back pain. Because back pain is so common people of working age get back pain, even young people. If you have it sitting is terrible, driving is terrible.

So you have come to Liverpool down by the water front.

Wonderful place. I am really enjoying it so much. I came about 15 years ago and it has changed so much. Just beautiful. It has opened up and you can look at the river and the ships and smell the sea. Beautiful buildings. Absolutely wonderful.

And of course we have that fantastic arena down there and that is where you are all meeting?

We are.

As a nation. You just mentioned working people and people like myself who suffer terribly with back pain and have at least two spells a month off work. What does it cost as a nation?

It costs about £7.5 billion a year, probably more if you add it up in terms of employment issues and benefit issues as a result, because if you are off for more than a year with back pain you are very unlikely to get back to work again and that is a really terrible statistic.

The thing about back pain is – I am dwelling on this because of my back – there is very rarely anything you can do about it and a lot of chronic pain is very similar, of course, hence the term – there is very little that can be done about it. So where do you come in?

Well, you can do things about it because you can learn to manage it differently. You can take drugs appropriately. You can exercise. That is one of the reasons why we are having the Fun Run – it is the professionals who are running but they are really practising what they preach. So exercise is really good for you, not having a pain and sitting stiff in a chair – that will give you more pain because you get more muscle spasm, more pain and more anxiety and so it gets into a vicious circle. So we do a lot to try and unwind that vicious circle.

Tell us a bit more about this Fun Run with the professionals doing it. Is this the first time you have done this?

Yes it is the first time. It is the idea of the organiser of our scientific programme who is a psychologist and about 100 people are going in for it, all sorts of people, some in teams. It is 5km, around the dock. We will give some prizes and it is being sponsored by a company and is really good.

A good old run – 5km – about 3 miles.

Yes. A lot of people do far more than that. Half-marathon runners and they go out every morning. They are very committed.

How about yourself. Are you looking forward to it.

I’m not running. Too old for that.

How many people are at this.

700. Usually we get a few more but we have competition this year. There is a world congress on Pain in Glasgow in August which will get about 3,000-4,000 people.

Where do these people come from. What are their backgrounds. Obviously they won't all just be from one specific area of healthcare. They all come from different directions.

They come from Primary Care, hospitals, companies, a lot of them are doctors – about 50% doctors but psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and scientists because the science of pain is really interesting. Why do we get chronic pain? Why does it become chronic? Why do some people get a sprain or a strain and then the pain goes away but in other people it composites sometimes for years and that is what we are trying to find out. That is the key.

What are some of the items on the agenda, some of the topics that are going to be covered. Are there some headlines?

The headlines – Genetics and Pain, why people are different. Pain in Children – a study of British children who have pain. There has been a lot of talk about premature babies and why they get more pain than others.

Do they?

They do. They may do because your nervous system is developing at that stage. Back Pain. Psychology of Pain we have got today. Individual Variations of Pain is coming up. You cannot treat everybody differently.

No precisely. We talked about the cost to the British labour market. What about the cost to the NHS of the amount of treatment.

Absolutely huge. Most of it in Primary Care costs. 85-95% of people will be treated by their family doctor so most of the cost is there.

The way things are being dealt with these days, again for example if you turn up at your doctor’s with back pain you tend to be referred to a Back Pain Clinic which will tend to be in the community rather than in a hospital environment and tend to be a physiotherapist rather than a consultant or a specialist at that stage. Is that better do you think that it is more community manned these days?

I think to begin with definitely but if you don’t get better then you want to be asking – is there something else available because it can get very complex and it is an interaction between how you feel about it, your emotions as well as the physical side and you need help with that. You cannot just unravel it yourself.

Absolutely. Enjoy your three days in Liverpool.

It is wonderful to be here.

Weather-wise it did not look a great start to the day but it is set to improve. Enjoy your stay in the city.

Radio Europe (Spain)
9 April 2008, 1.30pm GMT

In response to an article titled ‘Thousands could be spared pain from shingles’ published by the Daily Mail on 19 February, Dr Joan Hester gave a phone interview with Radio Europe (in Spain).

The Observer
12 February 2008

Headline “GP's causing addiction to pain killers due to misprescribing”

In response to the above article, the BPS sent the following response.


Approximately one person in seven in the UK suffers with chronic pain, the commonest causes being arthritis, back pain and headache. Pain killers, or analgesics, may be prescribed by a GP or specialist or bought over the counter. Patients rarely admit to purchasing drugs on the internet. The article “GPs have got Britain hooked on Pain Killers” (Observer 10th Feb 2008) is misleading as it focuses on benzodiazepines , such as Valium, which are not pain killers, and it has confused the terms dependency and addiction. Many patients in our experience, especially the elderly, are afraid to take even a small dose of an analgesic as they are afraid of becoming an addict, and would rather continue to suffer severe pain.

Addiction is a disease state characterised by behaviours that include craving, impaired control over use, compulsive use and continued use of a drug despite harm, whereas dependence, which may be physical or psychological, implies a state of adaptation to a drug manifested by withdrawal symptoms if it is discontinued. Physical dependence is undoubtedly common if analgesics such as codeine, tramadol, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl or other strong opioids are taken regularly for more than a few weeks. But it doesn’t occur in everyone. This is not addiction. The true prevalence of “problem drug use” in people prescribed analgesics for chronic pain is unknown, but it is not as common as your article suggests.

However, careful selection of patients who will be prescribed strong analgesics is indeed necessary, and in conditions such as headache, analgesics themselves can be the cause of the pain, and should indeed be withdrawn.

The British Pain Society advocates the wise prescribing of analgesics, with regular review and discontinuation if they are ineffective. It also advocates the use of other methods to relieve pain such as gentle exercise, relaxation, cognitive behavioural therapy, acupuncture, the use of other types of drugs, such as anticonvulsants and antidepressants, and the careful use of injections, nerve blocks and neurostimulation techniques. There is a useful guide on the website: www.britishpainsociety.org/pub_home.htm available to all in two versions, one for professionals and one for patients, entitled “Recommendations for the appropriate use of opioids in persistent non-cancer pain”

The UK has a good track record in the appropriate use of analgesics; it is important to maintain a balance and to seek advice from a pain specialist before starting strong analgesics.”

Dr Joan Hester

SAGA Magazine Online
7 October 2007

Fiery solution to pain

Chilli peppers could hold the key to a revolutionary new type of anaesthetic

Scientists in the US have found that a chemical called capsaicin in the hot spice can help to block pain, without affecting movement, or causing an unwanted feeling of numbness. This means that patients may soon be able to undergo tooth extractions without getting a numb, ‘fat’ lip feeling while pain management during surgery could also be radically improved.

'At the moment capsaicin is only used in very tiny quantities in skin creams as a pain reliever,' said Dr Joan Hester, president of the British Pain Society.

'In higher concentrations, however, it causes an initial burning sensation that is very painful. Using the agent in an anaesthetic to be injected under the skin and near nerves is likely to cause immense pain until the anaesthetic begins to work and that would be too much for patients to cope with.

'If another agent with similar properties to capsaicin is found, there could be a real breakthrough in how we manage pain.'

BBC News Online
4 October 2007

A nature paper on new ways of blocking pain without affecting other functions.
"Once again researchers at Havard Medical School, Bruce Bean and Clifford Woolf, are breaking new ground in our understanding of pain mechanisms and potential new ways of treating pain.

Capsaicin ointment has been used for many years to reduce sensitivity of the skin associated with pain, but causes an unpleasant burning sensation and cannot be tolerated by some patients. It is not as effective as the topical application of Lidocaine. Selective block of pain nerve fibres without numbness or motor block would be of great benefit in local anaesthesia by injection, for example in epidural anaesthesia, but the technique has not yet been tried on humans, and it is hard to see how capsaicin could be used in this situation.

I am sure this discovery will lead to further work, and the British Pain Society will be most interested to hear of further developments."

Dr Joan Hester

UK Edition
28 January 2006 00:08 GMT

Clues to cause of long-term pain

Undamaged nerve fibres - not those that are injured - may cause long-term chronic pain, research suggests.

Ongoing pain affects one-in-five adults across Europe, and costs an estimated £23 billion a year in lost work days.

Inflammation caused by damaged nerve fibres triggered nearby undamaged ones to send signals to the brain, the University of Bristol researchers said.

Dr Beverly Collett, president of the British Pain Society, said: "This is important because it throws more light on to what happens when people suffer neuropathic pain from trauma, surgery, or conditions like diabetes and shingles.

"Any research like this that helps us to understand why people suffer from pain should ultimately help us to develop new treatments."

Click here to view full feature on BBC's website


BBC News Online
UK Edition
13 December 2005 13:50 GMT

Brain scans help think away pain

It may really be a matter of mind over matter - scientists suggest it is possible to control brain activity to reduce the pain you feel.

Dr Beverly Collett, president of the British Pain Society, said: "In some ways, this supports some of what we are already doing in pain treatment, using cognitive therapy to change how people think about their pain.

"And we know psychological treatments do help people manage their pain."

Click here to view full feature on BBC's website

BBC News Online
UK Edition
19 October 2005 00:34 GMT

10 million Britons Suffering Pain

The results of the 2005 Pain Survey, in which the British Pain Society questioned 975 people, come despite an increased focus by the NHS on improving patient care.

"Patients must have their pain taken seriously", said Dr Beverly Collett , President of the British Pain Society and Consultant in Pain Management and Anaesthesia at the University Hospitals of Leicester .


Pregnancy & Birth Magazine
October 2005

The Perfect Birth: Five Facts About Pain

1. Pain isn’t just physical - there's an emotional side too, and how you feel pain is unique to you. Dr George Harrison, Honorary Treasurer of the British Pain Society, says that pain is defined as 'an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual, or potential tissue damage'.

2. Your pain threshold is all about perception. 'A person's pain threshold is the least level of stimulus they perceive as painful'. Dr Harrison says.

3. Your previous experience of pain can affect the way you feel pain in the future. 'It is generally believed that with increasing exposure to pain there is a slight reduction in pain threshold' says Dr Harrison. 'This means the more exposure you have to pain, especially when young, the more likely you are to have a lower pain threshold in adult life.

4. It's not possible to predict how you'll react to an experience like labour, based on how you've reacted to pain in the past. 'Although this is an attractive concept, pain cannot be taken in isolation, as there is an emotional component to it' explains Dr Harrison. 'Therefore, although some women may find the pain of childbirth a terrifying prospect, others may find it a fulfilling experience.

5. Women tend to have a lower pain threshold than men. Surely not? 'The work on pain thresholds has been studied both in animal and humal models, and has demonstrated that women tend to be more sensitive to pain - that is, they have a lower pain threshold' adds Dr Harrison.

BBC News Online
UK Editon
5 May 2005

Positive thinking a pain reliever

US experts say they have strong scientific proof that mind over matter works for relieving pain.

Positive thinking was as powerful as a shot of morphine for relieving pain and reduced activity in parts of the brain that process pain information.

Dr Beverly Collett , President of the British Pain Society, said: "Most people who work in pain clinics use cognitive therapy to help people manage their pain better.

"This study goes some way to explaining the positive impact of these psychological techniques in chronic pain states.”

The Scotsmen Newspaper
Tuesday 5th July 2005

Truth hurts: women feel pain more than men

"Research in the past has shown that in GP surgeries, there is a higher percentage of women with pain -related complaints; also that they feel pain at a lower threshold" - Dr Beverly Collett , President of the British Pain Society

medical research news
5 July 2005

It's the truth - pain hurts women more than men

The President of the British Pain Society, Dr Beverly Collett, says the research confirms a growing belief in the medical community that there were gender differences in the way pain is experienced.

She says previous research has shown that there is a higher percentage of women with pain-related complaints in doctors surgeries, and that women appear to feel pain at a lower threshold.

She says while this may be down to learned behaviour when they were children, no one really knows why.

PR Newswire
April 7 2004

Jerry Lewis, King of Comedy, Gets Serious About Chronic Pain

"Doctors and politicians need to listen to what patients are saying," comments Dr Beverly Collett, President of The Pain Society. "Recent research into pain services has clearly demonstrated that pain is under-managed and that too many patients are suffering unnecessarily."

We were fortunate that Dr Beverly Collett, President of the Pain Society was present. A collaboration between her organisation and the British Geriatrics Society has been suggested, as an effective method of tackling this common, distressing and disabling problem. We look forward to the fruits of such a joint venture.

SAGA Magazine
July 2004

Managing pain

Pain experts believe that 10% of people at any one time have chronic pain, defined as lasting more than three months. “It’s a surprisingly high figure,” agrees Dr Beverly Collett, pain consultant and President of the Pain Society. “Chronic pain causes a lot of misery. One in five people will be diagnosed with depression, and many – 19% of all pain sufferers – will have lost their jobs.”

Pain reaction
Sunday November 24 2002

After years of suffering chronic back pain, Sarah Edghill has found a miracle cure - in the unlikely form of an antidepressant

'In low doses, it's a relatively safe drug, and one of the most effective treatments for this sort of pain, ' says Dr Doug Justins , a consultant at St Thomas 's and President of the Pain Society. 'It's also non-addictive - you can stop taking it immediately with no ill effects. There are even some cases where the side effects can be helpful, for instance if someone is unable to sleep because of chronic pain , the drowsiness caused by the pills can be a good thing.'

BBC News Online
Wednesday, 19 June, 2002 19:03 UK

Pleasurable Smells Reduce Pain

The sweet scent of roses or almonds could help to take some of the pain out of a stay in hospital.

However, stimulating the sense of smell only seems to work for women.

Dr Beverly Collett, a pain management consultant at University Hospital Leicester and President-elect of the Pain Society, said the way that pain was perceived is still little understood.

She said: "We do know that pain perception is different between men and women. It may be due to some sort of genetic difference, or it may be that it is something to do with learned behaviour.

"Women tend to have a lower pain threshold, and a lower tolerance of pain.

"They also tend to respond differently to analgesic drugs used in clinical practice. For instance, morphine tends not to be quite as effective at relieving pain in woman as it is in men."

Eu Observer.com
Europeans suffer chronic pain
Sunday 24 November 2002 07:58

A third of Europeans suffer pain every day, according to a new survey by Pain Society - experts claim that not enough is being done to help them.

A survey, carried out in 16 countries, concluded that chronic pain costs Europe 34 billion euro and 500 million working days a year.

19 percent of European adults suffer constant pain for years, without adequate treatment. One fifth of the respondents said that they have had pain for at least 20 years or even longer.

"Doctors and politicians need to listen to what patients are saying", Dr Beverly Collett , President of the Pain Society, said in a statement, according to the Baltic News Service.

Healthy S pain
"Recent research in secondary care pain services has clearly demonstrated that pain is under managed and variably resourced", Dr Collett added.

The percentage of people suffering pain was the highest in Norway, where 30 percent of those questioned admitted they have chronic pain. The healthiest people were in Spain , with only 11 percent of sufferers.

As much as one fifth of those questioned said they have even lost their jobs because of chronic pain . The most frequent cause of pain was arthritis and osteoarthritis.

46,000 people from 16 European countries were questioned during the poll.

BBC News Online
1 November 2002

One in five Britons suffers pain on an almost daily basis, a survey suggests.

For most of these people, their quality of life is seriously affected.

Almost nine out of 10 say they are less physically active because of the pain and almost half say it has caused them to become depressed.

One in three say they have taken time off work because of pain and the same proportion say it affects their sex lives.

The NOP survey, carried out for the Pain Society, comes at the start of national Pain Awareness Week.

It suggests that a significant proportion - some 15% - of people with pain do not seek medical advice or help and 11% were not taking medication to alleviate their symptoms.

Dr Beverly Collett, President-elect of the Pain Society and a consultant at Leicester Royal Infirmary, said: "Untreated pain or inadequately treated pain can have a serious impact on emotional well-being, causing depression, feelings of helplessness and for some, disability.

"There are too many patients who have not received any help and they are suffering unnecessarily."

'Care shortfall'
The survey also suggests that those who do seek medical help turn to the GP in most cases. Very few visit a pain specialist.

Dr Collett said that this suggested patients may not be receiving the care they need.

"The survey shows that the majority are treated by their family doctor or at an NHS walk-in centre.

"Many self-medicate using over the counter medication and over one in 10 suffer in silence.

"Although we have effective drugs and other techniques for treating chronic pain, we lack an overall strategy for pain management services in this country."

She urged the government to tackle the problem.

Treatment costs
Back problems and arthritis are the most common cause of pain.

But many people also suffer from menstrual pain, headaches, migraine and pain associated with heart disease and cancer.

The cost of treating these patients on the NHS runs into hundreds of millions of pounds annually.

It is also estimated to cost the UK economy in excess of £1bn each year.

Healthy pages.net
11 November 2002 11:35:00

More than a fifth of people “suffer daily pain”

More than one-fifth of people in the UK are affected by pain almost every day, according to a new survey that highlights the need to give patients better access to effective pain management care.

The research, commissioned by the Pain Society, asked 1,000 UK adults about their experience of pain and found that 22 per cent said they lived with pain every day or most days.

Of those with at least some pain , 56 per cent said their quality of life was affected, 85 per cent were less physically active, 44 per cent experienced depression, 35 per cent had taken time off work and 30 per cent had problems with their sex life.

Dr Beverly Collett , President-elect of the Pain Society and consultant in anaesthesia and pain management at Leicester Royal Infirmary, said, “These findings reinforce what we know about the impact of pain on patients. Untreated pain or inadequately treated pain can have a serious impact on emotional well-being, causing depression, feelings of helplessness or, for some, disability.”

The survey also reveals that many people are not receiving help. Of those in pain , 15 per cent had not consulted anyone in the past 12 months and 11 per cent were not taking any medication for their pain . Moreover, only 7 per cent of those suffering chronic pain had visited a pain specialist or pain clinic.

Dr Collett said the findings underlined the importance of introducing an overall strategy for pain management services in the UK . “There are too many patients who have not received any help and they are suffering unnecessarily,” she said.

“This survey demonstrates that there remains a pressing need to reduce the burden of pain in the UK and give patients the means to access effective care.”

The Pain Society has launched Pain Awareness Week (November 11-18) to raise the profile of chronic and acute pain as conditions that are under-diagnosed and under-treated in today’s NHS.

BBC News Online
Thursday 18 November 1999 19:41 GMT

New treatment may relieve chronic pain

A technique successfully trailed on rats could lead to new treatments to reduce chronic pain in humans.

Scientists have succeeded in selectively destroying nerve cells in the spinal cords of rats making them less sensitive to the stimuli that cause pain.

It is thought the method would at present be limited to stopping extreme pain in the terminally ill, but it is now hoped to develop a less severe version which could be effective for other patients.

Dr Beverly Collett, Honorary Secretary of the Pain Society, said: "This sounds very exciting. It certainly sounds feasible and it is a fairly unique way of looking at the treatment of pain."




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