Former Pain Clinic patient, Paul Le Bars, says the clinic turned his life around.
Former Pain Clinic patient, Paul Le Bars, says the clinic turned his life around. Brenden Allen

Pain clinic saved me says happy customer

FORMER patients of Lismore Hospital’s pain management clinic have called on North Coast Area Health Service to not close or downgrade the facility.

“I feel guilty that I was lucky enough to use the service if other people can’t. It turned my life around,” Nimbin resident Paul Le Bars said.

The Northern Star has previously reported the North Coast Area Health service is reviewing the future of the pain clinic as part of a State Government demand that it slash $30 million from its annual budget.

Until September last year, Mr Le Bars had spent most of the last 35 years confined to bed taking a ‘medicine chest’ of painkillers after an accident while he was in the army.

“If I had done this pain management course 35 yeas ago my life would have been very different. It has re-energised me,” he said.

Confirming the review, health service chief executive Chris Crawford said the unit was under-utilised for its cost and had only seen 100 patients during the last year.

However, figures given to The Northern Star by sources with a working knowledge of the unit put the number of patients at 146 with a waiting list of 250.

Both Mr Crawford and the person that gave this paper the alternate figures, maintain their’s is correct.

Either way, patients who have contacted The Northern Star say the clinic’s services are critical for those in chronic pain.

“I’m still in pain but it’s now manageable,” William Minter of Ballina said. “The difference is taking pain killers and not working, or working.”

Mr Minter broke his back in a traffic accident in 2004 and was forced to sell his business.

After four major operations and still in excruciating pain, his only hope was getting into the clinic.

Mr Minter was on the waiting list for 12 months, but it was worth it, he said.

“It’s a full on three week course from nine to five where you learn about exercise and other things you can do to manage the pain.”

Patients are only admitted to the clinic after all medical avenues to stopping their pain have been exhausted.

They are seen by a range of health care professionals, including physiotherapists and psychiatrists.

A 2007 report found chronic pain cost the community around $34 billion, which includes productivity costs and $7 billion attributed to health system costs.

HAS LISMORE’S PAIN CLINIC HELPED YOU?

Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948

“ I feel guilty that I was lucky enough to use the service if other people can’t. It turned my life around”

– Paul Le Bars, former Pain Clinic client


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