BLB Solicitors have calculated that of client’s instructing them suffering with a chronic pain condition, it has taken on average around 18 months following the initial injury for their condition to be diagnosed.
This is of particular concern given that the earlier treatment is commenced, the better the prospect of a good long term outcome.
Whilst BLB’s findings are certainly not based upon any scientifically reliable sample or method, they have nevertheless highlighted a major problem – that GP’s are failing to recognise the symptoms of debilitating conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Neuropathic Pain and Fibromyalgia. Consequently, sufferers are not receiving early referrals to consultants in pain medicine.
Richard Lowes, a partner at BLB Solicitors, says that the situation is extremely worrying. “We have had cases where, having met with the client and taken a full case history, we have strongly suspected that our client is suffering with a particular condition
”, he said. “However, even when the symptoms are again highlighted to the GP, often they still fail to put two and two together. It really should not be the job of the solicitor to diagnose a client’s medical condition!”
“When reviewing a client’s medical records, it is not unusual to find that all of the symptoms have been recorded by the GP, but despite the symptoms staring them in the face, no action has been taken.”
Perhaps this should not come as a great surprise. A Dr Foster Report in 2004 revealed that 92% of Primary Care Organisations (PCO’s) fail to allocate any resources at all to training GP’s in chronic pain. The same report also revealed that 70% of PCO’s provide no guidelines or recommendations at all on the management of chronic pain.
Chronic pain sufferers are often restricted in their ability to work, resulting in a greater dependence upon state benefits. Delays in diagnosis and treatment therefore result in a substantial additional burden upon the taxpayer. Surely then, a modest investment in GP training in chronic pain would prove a worthwhile investment.