Quantifying the impact of COVID-19 on chronic pain services in the Republic of Ireland. Ir J Med Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-021-02509-2
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most medical services were shut down and resources were redistributed. Closures included pain management departments where many staff were redeployed. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on chronic pain services in the Republic of Ireland.
An online survey was sent to pain consultants working in public hospitals in the Republic of Ireland between the 22nd and 28th September 2020.
We received responses from 18 consultants from all 15 public hospitals in the Republic of Ireland with chronic pain services. Procedural volume during lockdown fell to 26% of pre-COVID levels. This had recovered somewhat by the time of the survey to 71%. Similarly, in-person outpatient clinic volume fell to 10% of per-COVID numbers and recovered to 50%. On average, 39% of public hospital activity was made up for by the availability of private hospitals. This varied significantly across the country. The use of telemedicine increased significantly during the pandemic. Before COVID, on average, 13% of outpatient clinic volume was composed of telephone or video consultations. This increased to 46% at the time of the survey.
This survey of consultant pain physicians in the Republic of Ireland has revealed how chronic pain services have been affected during the pandemic and how they have evolved.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most medical services were shut down and resources were redistributed . Closures included pain management departments where many staff were redeployed into theater and intensive care where their skillset was directly transferable. Chronic pain services in the Republic of Ireland could ill afford this reduction in activity as significant waiting lists exist with over 12,000 currently waiting to be seen in a chronic pain clinic nationally . There are significant costs to this with a systematic review demonstrating that wait times in excess of six months are associated with a significant clinical deterioration .
To assess the impact of COVID-19 on chronic pain services in the Republic of Ireland, we conducted a survey of public hospital chronic pain services. We wished to determine the impact of the pandemic on procedural and clinic volumes and prescribing rates. We also wished to investigate how the service has evolved during this time period.
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