UK’s biggest pain management service celebrates 40 years of supporting people with chronic pain
Date: 31 October 2023
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust’s Pain Management Programme (PMP) has reached the incredible milestone of 40 years of service delivery. Since small beginnings in the sewing room of the old Walton Hospital in Fazakerley, the programme has delivered courses to thousands of patients with lifelong pain conditions, from chronic pain following injury, to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. In the last 20 years, the programme has seen over 15,000 patients.
Chronic pain affects 15.5 million people in England, 34% of the population, and is more common in areas of greater deprivation. Among young adults with chronic pain, the proportion with high impact pain rose from 21% to 32% between 2011 and 2017.
PMP Service Lead and Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Kerry Mathews said: “I’m so incredibly proud of our team and the amazing support they have provided to patients over the decades. From a handful of staff in the early 80s, to now – a 36-strong department comprising psychology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy teams is an incredible achievement.
“We serve a whole range of pain conditions in a very multi-disciplinary way, so that a number of aspects of a patient is considered and treated. There’s a wall in the break room filled with thank you cards from patients and their loved ones on how helpful they have found the coping mechanisms and support we give them. Long may it continue.”
The Programme offers a combination of therapies, including Psychological, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
Lead Occupational Therapist John Tetlow has worked in PMP for over 20 years, he said: “I had my first experience of pain management during my time working on the neuro inpatient wards in 2003, but was successful in gaining a full-time post as a senior therapist in May 2007. The length of time I have worked here says a lot about how I feel about The Walton Centre.
“Living with chronic pain is very challenging for our patients, and helping them learn how to come to terms with and manage a long-term condition is not easy. We are patient, understanding and knowledgeable, and forming a trusting therapeutic relationship is important. Working with patients from initial assessment to six-month follow-up shows us how we support meaningful changes people make.”
Patients may not experience pain reduction, however compared to before PMP, patients report a 32% reduction in worrying thoughts about their pain symptoms, as well as a 48% improvement in confidence to self-manage their pain. Patients who complete the programme also demonstrate a 35% increase in physical ability afterwards.
Research Lead and Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Katie Herron said: “Whilst chronic pain can be difficult to treat medically and achieve pain reduction, the PMP can help people with chronic pain make improvements in how they experience pain and their quality of life. I regularly hear patients who have gone through one of the courses say that it has helped them to move forward positively and reach achievable goals”
Between 75-90% of patients make significant changes towards their quality of life goals. This includes activities such as getting back to a specific exercise, engaging more in a hobby, going on more outings with family and getting back into work or study.
Pain Specialist Physiotherapist Amy Abbott said: “In physiotherapy, what we are looking to achieve through psychologically informed approaches is to enable patients to reach their goals, allowing for a better quality of life. We consider the patients’ individual needs; helping them to make sense of the pain, improve movement quality, strength and endurance allowing patients greater confidence in returning to valued activity.
“This varied approach allows for patients to find something that works for them and facilitates confidence in trying new activities or reestablishing connection with previously enjoyed exercise. Patients feedback that they feel listened to, they feel physically stronger and more confident to trial new activity, they feel hopeful and excited for the future and newfound opportunities.”
After a car accident in 2001, Trust Governor Albert Weidemann received support from the PMP team. He said: “I can honestly say the team saved my life. They were professional and compassionate and equipped me with an understanding of my pain both physically and mentally.
“It was a matter of trial and error in finding the right coping strategies which finally worked for me. All their efforts enabled me to manage my pain and gave me back my life. 22 years on, I can say hand on heart I would not be where I am today had it not been for the Pain Management Team at The Walton Centre.”
For more information in the Pain Management Programme, go to: www.thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk
Notes to editors
Further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact the Communications Team at The Walton Centre on 0151 556 3397 or email@example.com
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is the only hospital trust in the UK specialising in neurology, neurosurgery and pain services. Although the majority of patients come from Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, Lancashire and the Isle of Man, for some specialist treatments of complex disorders we see patients from all parts of the country, referred by their GPs or other neurologists, neurosurgeons and pain clinicians.
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. The independent regulator of all health and social care services in England published its rating on Friday 21 October 2016, following announced and unannounced inspection visits to the Trust in April 2016.
For more information please visit: www.thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk or follow the Trust on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Lower Lane, Fazakerley, Liverpool L9 7LJ
0151 525 3611
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust’s Pain Management Programme (PMP) has reached the incredible milestone of 40 years of service delivery.