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31st Edition of the Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) newsletter

Dr. Brona Fullen & Mr. Joop van Griensven – European Pain Federation EFIC, Belgium

Dear reader,

As 2020 draws to a close, the Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) would like to thank you for your continued support, during what has been a unique year. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our daily lives, in particular, for healthcare professionals and patients living with chronic pain.

The disruption caused by COVID has affected not only the provision of healthcare services across the spectrum of care, but also across the globe. To understand more about the impact of COVID on the delivery and receipt of pain therapy, Pain Alliance Europe (PAE) launched a survey to find out how chronic pain patients across the EU are affected by COVID-19. For example, any difficulties chronic pain patients are having accessing treatment for their pain condition; how the pandemic is affecting them socially, emotionally, and financially; the research that is now being conducted; and whether technology is helping them. PAE also recently presented the results of another survey on “Pain and E-Health and M-Health” in the context of the current pandemic. The results show that, for people living with chronic pain, using electronic methods to support their health, is not well known.

Despite the pandemic, SIP Europe remained committed to continuing its advocacy work. For example, it did not stop us from appointing a new leader for SIP, and we are delighted to welcome Prof. Patrice Forget, who has accepted the role of SIP Working Group Chair for EFIC. Patrice is a Belgian physician and Clinical Chair in Anaesthesia, University of Aberdeen, and Honorary Consultant, NHS Grampian, Aberdeen, United Kingdom. We look forward to working together over the next three years. We would also like to thank Professor Bart Morlion, who has stepped down from the role prior to Patrice’s appointment.

Shortly after publishing our Cancer Position Paper, SIP Europe held a series of virtual meetings with the offices of MEP Irena Joveva, MEP Roberta Metsola, MEP Alfred Sant, MEP Dolors Montserrat, MEP Susana Solís Pérez, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, and MEP Margarita de la Pisa Carrión. During these meetings we took the opportunity to speak about the 2018 SIP Joint Statement, SIP’s long-term priorities (pain indicators, pain education, pain in employment, and pain research), and SIPs 2020-21 policy priorities (cancer pain policies, employment and social integration of pain patients, and pain and digital medicine).

These meetings were also a timely opportunity to discuss the key facts and recommendations from the SIP Cancer Position Paper, particularly in light of the upcoming Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan (EBCP) (expected January 2021), and the ongoing work of the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA).

As we move into 2021, SIP continues to lay the groundwork for policy influencing in our other priority areas (such as employment and social integration of pain patients, and pain and digital medicine). On the topic of employment and social integration of pain patients, we recently submitted SIP’s pledges to reinforce the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Within the area of digital medicine, SIP also took the opportunity to contribute to the European Commission’s Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health (EXPH) draft opinion on the organisation of resilient health and social care following the COVID-19 pandemic. SIP called for the establishment of pain as a quality indicator for health systems performance assessment, particularly in the context of improving the resilience of health systems, and the digitisation of health systems and services.

In the last part of 2020, SIP also held two virtual National Platform calls, (the 25th September, and the 26th November). We are proud to see SIP activities continue at national level, and we are happy to welcome on board SIP Switzerland after its inaugural meeting on the 20th October 2020. SIP National Platform colleagues have also been active in organising virtual meetings, for example, SIP Portugal organised a webinar on the 15th October entitled “The National Day Against Pain”. We would also like to extend a big thank you to our Spanish colleagues as SIP Europe was recently awarded the prize of “Best Political Initiative in the Pain Category” by the Spanish Pain Society.

As part of SIP’s commitment to strengthening our network of European partners and supporters, we held a virtual SIP Stakeholder Forum on the 28th October 2020. This was an opportunity for European and national colleagues to hear a summary of SIP’s 2020 achievements, as well as to discuss SIP’s 2021 aspirations, and areas of collaboration. We look forward to sharing more updates on this soon.

As we move into an intensified period of European health policy activity, SIP looks forward to continued collaboration with our network in 2021 and beyond. SIP remains committed to addressing issues related to the societal impact of pain, and we look forward to building on our 2020 successes next year.

As many events now take place virtually, we encourage you to keep up to date with SIP’s activities using our calendar.

Once again, we would like to thank you for your continued collaboration and support. We wish you and your loved ones a happy, safe, and healthy holiday and new year in this extraordinary time.

Best wishes,

Dr. Brona Fullen, President of European Pain Federation EFIC &
Mr. Joop van Griensven, President of Pain Alliance Europe (PAE)

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