Healthcare sector fails chronic pain patients

Patients suffering from chronic or long-term pain are not given proper treatment in Sweden, according to several doctors. In an open letter to the government, a group of doctors are now calling for national guidelines and improved education for healthcare professionals.

“We believe there is a need for a national action plan that can better organise treatment of chronic or long-term pain,” Professor Björn Gerdle, told Swedish Radio News. “Treatment of pain varies greatly but it usually means a high cost for the healthcare sector and for society.”

At least a quarter of a million Swedes suffer from long-term pain and the annual cost is close to more than $13 billion, according to figures from the Council on Health Technology Assessment.

But many patients also look for help outside the traditional healthcare sector, a sign that the healthcare system is not providing adequate care, according to Björn Gerdle.

“I believe we can give a more equal pain treatment if the National Board on Health and Welfare would provide guidelines,” he said. “Education for those who work in healthcare and more research would also make pain treatment more efficient.”