Dr Kim Hames We Need A Pain Unit at PMH

PMH has no dedicated pain unit. Adults with chronic pain can access specialist pain clinics in Western Australia – children cannot.  This inequity is the basis of a campaign for a dedicated pain unit at PMH.

Parents involved in the campaign have been in contact with the WA Minister for Health.  While the Minister acknowledges that there is no dedicated pain service at PMH he doesn’t say what will be done about this gap in services.

Children are currently suffering who do not need to be.  Specialist care can make a real difference in the lives of children living with chronic pain.

Here is a letter from parent Tracie Barker to the WA Minister for Health about the need for a pain unit at PMH.

Dr Kim Hames MLA

Deputy Premier & Minister for Health

28th Floor Governor Stirling Tower

197 St Geroges Terrace

Perth WA 6000


Your Ref: 25-26951

Dear Dr Hames

Thank you for your response to my recent letter regarding a chronic pain service at PMH. With this matter now being brought to your attention I would like to add some further comments for your consideration and action.

As you mention, the lack of a complex and chronic pain service at PMH is a significant issue and one which I believe many members of our community are becoming increasingly concerned about. I have recently learnt that PMH recognises the need for access to chronic and complex pain specialists and the need for a more streamlined, effective delivery of services and are currently preparing a business case for the Director General of Health in support of this.

In view of the above and from personal experience, I would concur that whilst chronic pain management at PMH is spread across a range of specialities this does not mean it meets the immediate or ongoing needs of patients, including those of my own son.  For example, patients with previously diagnosed chronic pain present at ED in crisis and which department oversees their care? Neurology passes the case to Gastroenterology who then passes it to Paediatrics and so on.  Eventually, after one department takes on management of patient care, they make a referral to the Anaesthetic Department who, whilst able to provide some immediate relief, are not in a position to oversee ongoing pain management or the ensuing challenges that long term pain generates.

I have simplified the above but in essence, having experienced the scenario, the course of events remains the same and children and adolescents suffer as a consequence. It becomes increasingly apparent that a dedicated pain management team at PMH is necessary to provide immediate care for patients in crisis and deliver the specialist services required to provide ongoing management of complex and chronic pain illness.

Finally, I would ask you to consider the irony in that once a child at PMH turns 18 they are able to access a dedicated pain service; it poses the question, does Government consider paediatric chronic pain to be any less important or debilitating than that experienced by adults? If not, I would ask what plans Government has to resolve this prejudicial and undeserved situation experienced by vulnerable, younger members of our society.

Yours sincerely


Tracie Barker

If you would like to read more about our campaign visit PMH Needs A New Pain Unit.