Two services specifically manage pain in children: The Acute Pain Service (APS), which manages acute pain in inpatient children and adults; and the Children’s Complex Pain Service (CCPS), which manages complex acute or chronic pain in children and young people from birth to prior to their 16th birthday.
Acute Pain Service for Inpatients
If your child needs to stay in hospital, a doctor may refer your child to the Acute Pain Service for extra assistance in helping with pain from illness, injury or surgery. This team of specialised doctors and nurses operates 24 hours / 7 days per week and will visit your child daily or as needed.
Acute Pain Team
The Acute Pain Service comprises various Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia specialists, registrars and nurses. Staff will change from shift to shift to cover this 24 hour service. We know people value continuity so, whenever possible, we will try have a consistent staff member see your child.
What we do
The Acute Pain Service requires a referral from a child's admitting doctor or anaesthetist. An APS nurse and/or doctor will then assess your child's needs and give you and your child's admitting doctor pain management advice. Your child's admitting doctor and team continue to be the primary health care providers for your child whilst in hospital. Sometimes, the APS can help you and your general practitioner with advice and referral for ongoing pain management if this is still needed after your child leaves hospital.
Your child’s admitting doctor or a ward nurse will contact our team on your behalf.
Children’s Complex Pain Service for Inpatients and Outpatients
Complex pain problems may include those associated with acute or chronic medical or surgical conditions, cancer, cancer treatments, and persisting pain of unknown cause. Such pain problems may have a big effect on how young people function (grow, move, learn) and how they feel (about themselves, family, and friends).
The Children’s Complex Pain Service (CCPS) is for children aged younger than their 16th birthday (at time of referral)* who experience pain that is persisting or likely to persist more than three months and is affecting their sleep, mood, ability to move, or to attend school/learn. We aim to provide outpatient assessment, management, and support to children and young people from the Hunter New England or North Coast regions of NSW, and to their families and primary healthcare team. A consultation service is also provided for children with complex pain who are admitted to John Hunter Children's Hospital.
The service tailors care to the needs of each child or young person and family using a bio-psycho-socio-cultural approach. This is a way of offering care that is individualised and respectful of a person’s culture and beliefs. We look at the different causes and effects of pain to assess the physical impacts, as well as the effect on feelings and the person’s ability to get on with everyday living and do the things that are important to them.
* Young people aged 16 years or older should be referred to Hunter Integrated Pain Service (HIPS) @ John Hunter Hospital, or to Tamworth Integrated Pain Service (TIPS) @ Tamworth Base Hospital, whichever is closest.
* If the referral is made before their 16th birthday, a young person may continue to see the Children’s Complex Pain Service for ongoing pain management into their young adult years, and will be transitioned to HIPS/TIPS at a time most appropriate to their individual care needs. This will usually be completed by their 19th birthday.
The Children’s Complex Pain Service comprises a Pain Medicine Specialist (Doctor), Clinical Nurse Consultant, Physiotherapist, Clinical Psychologist, and an Administration Assistant. It is a part-time team working on the days Monday, Wednesday and Friday during business hours.
What we do
The Children’s Complex Pain Service requires a detailed referral from a medical practitioner who is coordinating, or at least involved in, your child’s ongoing healthcare. Children and young people need to have had a pain assessment by the referring doctor and all reasonable tests should have been completed before referral.
If your child is in hospital at the time of referral, a member of the CCPS will arrange to meet your child and family on the ward for assessment and care planning. Those not needing to be in hospital are seen in the Paediatric Outpatient Clinics. New patients generally have a 150 minute Thur/Fri morning appointment with all clinical members of the team for assessment and initial advice. Telehealth appointments may also be offered to children living more than 50 km from JHCH.
An individualised pain management plan will be developed with you and your child and you will receive a copy to take home. 60 minute follow up appointments with team members are held on Thur/Fri afternoons. Psychological support is also available to parents and siblings of children with complex pain because pain may also affect the mood of those who support the child or young person.
While you are waiting for your appointment
You will be contacted about your referral to let you know whether the Children’s Complex Pain Service is the best team to manage your child’s pain or whether somewhere else is more appropriate. Whilst every child’s pain is important, there is a triage system – this means children whose pain is interfering most with life will be seen soonest. Wait times generally range between 1-4 days for children in hospital, and between 2-12 weeks for outpatients. While you are waiting to see the team, you and your child may benefit by viewing the online pain education modules for children and young people called PainBytes.
PainBytes can be viewed at http://www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/chronic-pain/painbytes.
Your child should continue to see his/her general practitioner or specialist as needed before the appointment, or in the event of urgent, severe pain, be taken to an Emergency Department. Your GP can phone our service for advice while you are waiting for your appointment.
If you feel that the Children’s Complex Pain Service might be helpful in your circumstances, you will first need to discuss this with the main doctor involved in your child’s care and obtain a referral to Dr Susie Lord.
If there has been a referral and you require information, please phone and leave a message with our Administration Assistant on 49214115 or you can email us on
HNELHD-CCPS@health.nsw.gov.au and one of our team members will make contact.