German Society for Pain Medicine eV
A highlight at the end of the German Pain and Palliative Care Day was the health policy symposium on care in pain medicine. In it, Dr. Johannes Horlemann, Kevelaer, Congress President and President of the German Society for Pain Medicine eV (DGS), and DGS Vice President Dr. Silvia Maurer, Bad Bergzabern, with members of the Health Committee of the German Bundestag. This year’s patron of the congress, Martina Stamm-Fibich, patients’ representative of the SPD parliamentary group, Kathrin Vogler, Die Linke, Prof. Dr. Armin Grau, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, and Dr. Georg Kippels, CDU. Kristine Lütke, FDP, was represented via a video message. The central topics were needs planning in pain medicine and the prescription of medicinal cannabinoids.
“The aim of the German society for pain medicine is to improve care in concrete terms,” said Horlemann. He is therefore happy to be able to continue the discussion that started last year with representatives of the Health Committee. In Germany, 3.9 million people live with severe chronic pain. In purely mathematical terms, the 1,400 pain physicians could treat a maximum of 420,000 of them per quarter. The rest fell through the cracks. “That must not happen,” Horlemann demanded. A nationwide supply is also not provided in Germany – and a change in the requirements planning at the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) is not an issue. If self-government does not create the necessary framework conditions, politicians must act. The age structure in pain medicine is also extremely worrying: In the next five years, half of the pain medicine specialists currently working will retire.
Draw attention to undersupply
Pain medicine is also left out when it comes to training support, Maurer criticized. The reason: Pain medicine is an additional designation and not a specialist training. Only the KV Westfalen-Lippe provides funds to promote pain medicine training. Vogler noted that there is a lot of discussion about the neglect of rural areas in medical care, but the lack of care in pain medicine also affects cities. In Germany there are 188 cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants without pain medicine care. It is therefore important to draw attention to the undersupply. For people who are already seriously ill, long distances to the doctor’s office are an additional hurdle. Stamm-Fibich also sees a permanent construction site in pain medicine care in Germany. We must work together to establish in society that patients need access to effective therapeutic approaches. In some regions of Germany this is not the case.
Counteract over- and incorrect supply
Prof. Grau referred to misguided incentives in the healthcare system: In the treatment of back pain, there is a significant overuse and misuse with too much imaging in diagnostics and too many operations. This must be counteracted, among other things, by structured treatment programs. A special approach is the health regions with a stronger cross-sectoral networking of all health professions. With regard to improving medical care, there is often a discussion about costs, but the added value for the patients is not seen, says Kippels. The return to a pain-free or low-pain life not only increases the quality of life, but possibly also the ability to work – a win-win situation for patients and society. However, he sees major problems in getting young doctors enthusiastic about pain medicine. Without the prospect of specialist training with appropriate remuneration, doctors lack the incentive to opt for pain medicine.
G-BA decision as a first step towards facilitating the prescription of cannabinoids
All participants in the health policy symposium welcomed the decision of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) of March 16, 2023, which makes it easier for medical cannabinoids to be prescribed within the scope of the legal possibilities must approve. According to Horlemann, this reservation of approval still has to be lifted. It is inhumane if patients with severe pain and many unsuccessful attempts at therapy first have to go through an administrative procedure before they have access to effective therapy. Stamm-Fibich confirmed that the G-BA decision is a good basis for making further progress in pain medicine care.
Many lectures available in the media library
The German Pain and Palliative Care Day 2023 took place online from March 14th to 18th, 2023. Most of the presentations are available to registered participants in the media library on demand until mid-May.
* Press release of the Federal Joint Committee “G-BA regulates the prescription of medicinal cannabis in the case of serious illnesses: No additional requirements that go beyond the legally binding prescription requirements binding for the G-BA” available at: https://www.g-ba.de/presse/pressemitteilungen-meldungen/1098/
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Original content from: German Society for Pain Medicine eV, transmitted by news aktuell