Feeling the Pain: Reducing Harm Caused by Opioids for Non-Cancer Pain

18/11/2022 9:00 am to 18/11/2022 4:30 pm

Event Details

Feeling the Pain Event Resources

Speaker presentations, posters and many more resources are included below.

The AHSN NENC recently held an event to present the problems and potential solutions of pain, its management and the subsequent issues of opioid prescribing for non-cancer pain.

This event also hosted the launch of the new North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System Chronic Pain Clinical Network.

National and regional speakers presented an overview of the opioid problem in the North-East and North Cumbria; its impact on public health, personal experiences of opioid prescribing and novel ways of managing pain and its sequelae.

Chairing the event was Professor Julia Newton, Medical Director, AHSN NENC and we were joined by the following speakers:

  • Ewan Maule, Medicines and Pharmacy Director, NENC ICB
  • Professor Edward Kunonga, Director of Population Health Management and Consultant in Public Health
  • Ger Fowler, Patient Voice, CEO of Veterans in Crisis
  • Dr Deepak Ravindran, Pain Management Consultant
  • Mr Diarmaid Ferguson – Advanced MSK Practitioner, Best MSK Health Programme

The agenda can be viewed here




Setting the Scene – Opioids a symptom of a wider problem

Ewan Maule, Director of Medicines and Pharmacy, North East and North Cumbria ICB

The Power of the Collective – Launch of the Pain Clinical Network

Dr Graham Syers, Clinical Chair, North East and North Cumbria ICS

Opioids and the Impact on Population Health and healthcare inequalities 

Professor Edward Kunonga, Consultant in Public Health, North of England Commissioning Support Unit

Trauma Informed Pain Care: A Holistic Systems Approach

Dr Deepak Ravindran

BestMSKHealth Collaborative

Mr Diarmaid Ferguson, Joint Chair NENC MSK Alliance, Chair of National Spinal Network, NHSE / GIRFT Best MSK Spinal workstreams

Introduction to Clinical Networks

Dr Robin Mitchell, Clinical Director, Clinical Networks North East and North Cumbria

Breakout Presentations

Applied opioid stewardship

Escape Pain

Live Well with Pain

Make Every Contact Count

Medicines Optimisation Service North Cumbria Persistent Physical Symptoms Service

North Cumbria Persistent Physical Symptoms Service

North Cumbria Place Opioid Workstream

Pain & Opioid Reduction – Healthy Happy Places

Shared Decision Making

Veterans in Crisis

Working with Veterans in Crisis within GP Practices

Ways to Wellness


Professor Julia Newton

Medical Director


Julia graduated from Newcastle University Medical School in 1990. Since then she has worked in a range of roles in the North East of England. She became a Consultant Physician with an interest in Geriatric Medicine in 2000 and Professor of Ageing and Medicine at Newcastle University in 2008.

She was Dean of Clinical Medicine in the Faculty of Medical Sciences until 2015 and more recently Director of Newcastle Academic Health Partners.

She has a PhD in physiological sciences from Newcastle University and her research focusses upon understanding the causes of fatigue in chronic diseases.


Ewan Maule

Director of Medicines and Pharmacy

North East and North Cumbria ICB

Ewan Maule is the Director of Medicines and Pharmacy for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board. He is also an elected member of the English Pharmacy Board of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Ewan’s career has seen him work in a variety of roles in community pharmacy, acute care and mental health, before moving into commissioning in Sunderland CCG.


Dr Graham Syers

North East and North Cumbria ICS

Graham is a GP partner at Alnwick Medical Group, having worked at The Bondgate Practice in Alnwick since 1998. During that time he was initially a GP trainer and then worked as a GP with a special interest in musculoskeletal medicine. Outside the practice he chaired the North Locality Practice Based Commissioning Group until the inception of the CCG in 2013 when he was appointed as North Locality Director. During his time with the CCG he has developed his role as Prescribing Lead and is currently Vice Chair of the North Tyneside, Gateshead and North Cumbria Area Prescribing Committee and Chairs the North East and North Cumbria Prescribing Forum.


Dr Robin Mitchell

Clinical Director

North of England Clinical Networks, Cumbria and North East

Dr Robin Mitchell graduated in Medicine from Edinburgh University in 1980. He trained in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care in Lothian and Trent Regions prior to taking up a post as Consultant Anaesthetist in Durham in 1989.

Robin was a member of the project team for the new hospital development in North Durham from 1991 to 1998. He was Clinical Director for Anaesthetics from 1993 to 1996, and subsequently was appointed as Medical Director for North Durham from 1996 to 2000.

In his clinical specialty, he maintained a broad range of interests including critical care, obstetric anaesthesia, paediatric anaesthesia and anaesthesia for colorectal surgery. He continued clinical work until 2011.

He undertook a further term as Executive Medical Director for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust from 2011 to 2013, and then continued as Responsible Officer and Deputy Medical Director from 2013 to 2016.

Robin was appointed as Clinical Director for Northern Clinical Networks in 2013 and also holds an ex-officio seat on the Northern Clinical Senate Council.


Ger Fowler


Veterans in Crisis

Ger Fowler is an army veteran and CEO of the multi-award-winning ‘Veterans in Crisis’.

Ger served in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. Later he was diagnosed with PTSD. With a desire to help others, Ger launched Veterans in Crisis.



Professor Edward Kunonga

Having initially gained a respectable university degree as a physiotherapist, Edward quickly came to the realisation that he wanted to help more than just a single patient at a time: He wanted to be involved in shaping the health of populations for the better. He therefore proceeded to gain a Masters degree in Epidemiology from the London School of Tropical Medicine; then undertook further specialist postgraduate public health training, leading to attainment of Fellowship of the Faculty of Public Health. He solidified this understanding with additional training in Lifestyle Medicine. Along the way he sought to have a deeper understanding of the administrative, financial and leadership requirements of running large organisations, which involved the attainment of an MBA with merit, emphasizing talent management, strategic planning, deployment and implementation.

With this background, Edward has been able to work in a number of senior leadership positions related to public health. He has been a coordinator of programs at CHESTRAD, a governor and visiting fellow at two universities, a Director of Public Health at two English councils and a consultant in public health for a number of NHS trusts. He currently serves as a consultant as well as professor at Teesside University. He has also been consulted in an advisory capacity by non-NHS organisations in relation to public health considerations around Covid-19. He also continues to promote proven healthy lifestyle choices and interventions on various platforms including social media.


Dr Deepak Ravindran

Clinical lead for the Department of Pain Medicine

Royal Berkshire Hospital

Clinical lead for the Department of Pain Medicine at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading UK. He is triple certified in Anaesthesia and has done a diploma in Musculoskeletal medicine as well as a fellow of the Interventional pain practice in the USA. In 2020, he also qualified as a certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician accredited by the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine/IBLM USA.

He practices an upstream and trauma-informed approach to holistically managing pain. In parallel to pain management, Dr. Ravindran also performs a variety of treatments, such as nerve blockers guided by X-ray and ultrasound. His areas of clinical expertise and specialist care include management of opioids, treatment of neck and back pain, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and cancer pain.

His innovative and expansive approaches to pain medicine and the complex interplay between our mind and body, including mental health awareness, has spearheaded Dr Deepak Ravindran as a global keynote speaker on the conference circuit, mainstream media, and educational institutions!

Notably, Dr Deepak Ravindran helped established the award-winning Integrated Pain and Spinal Service (IPASS) service in 2016 in partnership with the NHS and also the Multidisciplinary Circle Fibromyalgia Clinic. In 2020, he also led on the estalishment of the Berkshire Longcovid Integrated Service (BLIS) As one to always give back, Dr Deepak Ravindran has collaborated with the not-for-profit sector and primary caregivers to introduce innovative resources to treat chronic pain more effectively. As a frequent panel member and advisor, Dr Deepak Ravindran is a pioneer and advocate in mindset management to a pain-free life.


Diarmaid Ferguson

Chair National Spine Network


Originally from Ireland, Diarmaid graduated with a degree in Physiology and Biochemistry from Cardiff University and then trained to be a Physiotherapist at Leeds University. Diarmaid is now a MSK physiotherapy practitioner and qualified non-medical prescriber, managing a broad clinical caseload in a variety of clinical settings and environments.   Diarmaid has a special interest in pain science and using a biopsychosocial approach. He has presented on these subjects regionally and internationally including recent BOA and BRIT Spine conferences.  He has taught on post graduate courses including a post graduate diploma in MSK healthcare and Pain masterclass programme.  Diarmaid is currently Clinical lead of North of England Regional Low Back pain programme and North of England regional representative on the National Back Pain pathway clinical network. He is the non-medical member of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society committee. In 2017 he received the John Dickson medal in 2017, awarded “to celebrate and foster excellence in primary care musculoskeletal medicine”.



Session one

Option a)

North Cumbria Persistent Physical Symptoms Services (PPSS): A team member from the PPSS presents how they can help to manage patients with chronic pain.

Option b)

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust: Anesthetist Edward Halvey discusses a pilot project of an arthroplasty analgesia protocol for post-surgery patients discharge from hospital.

Escape Pain: Kath Moore, lower limb team lead at TIMS, will present the successes of delivering a rehabilitation programme for hip and knee osteoarthritis.

Option c)

Shared Decision Making in Practice: A workshop to discuss what shared decision making might look like in practice and the challenges faced by practitioners in time limited consultations

Personalised Care: Kelly Coulter from NHSE/I will discuss Personalised Care provision across the region.


Session two

Option a)

Make Every Contact Count: Craig Robson, Regional MECC Trainer will discuss how MECC can be used to disseminate the message about harm caused by opioids for non-cancer pain.

Healthy Happy Places: Healing environments and pain management. Dr Rachel Turnbull, AHSN NENC Programme Lead for Healthy Happy Places will share and explore some of the emerging evidence around pain management and how places and spaces in the built environment may be able to support recovery and healing.

Option b)

Veterans in Crisis (VICS): Hear from Ger Fowler, CEO, VICs, What VIC’s is and what it does.

CCG working with CIC’s: Explainingthe Integration of VIC’s into Sunderland CCG.

Option c)

Ways to Wellness: Team members will explain Ways to Wellness, social prescribing and pain.

Live Well with Pain: Paul Chazot, Developer of Live Well with Pain will showcase the Digital resource for managing pain.

Option d)

North Cumbria Persistent Physical Symptoms Service (PPSS) opioid reduction service: The North Cumbria PPSS service approach in helping patients reduce their opioid prescription.


Sharing is nice!

Join the conversation. Follow us at @AHSN_NENC, and use the hashtag #Feelingthepain

The AHSN NENC have collated several resources to help support the management of pain and reduce opioid prescribing.

Opioid NIPP– NHS Insights Prioritisation Programme



The Durham Centre, Belmont Industrial Estate, Belmont, Durham, DH1 1TN


Travelling to the venue

Exit A1(M) at Junction 62, signposted Sunderland, Durham (A690), Consett (A691). At roundabout, take exit signposted Durham (A690), Consett (A691). Leave A690 at first exit, signposted Belmont, Dragonville, Karting Centre. At Junction, turn left, signposted Belmont, Dragonville. At traffic lights, turn left, signposted Belmont Business Park, Belmont Industrial Estate. Continue for 1/2 mile, turn left into Belmont Industrial Estate

At junction, turn left. The Durham Centre is on your right


Event parking

There is free parking onsite.


Rail and Metro

Distance from Durham Train Station: approx 2.8 miles

1: Relationship of Healthy Building Determinants With Back and Neck Pain: A Systematic Review


2: Relationship of Healthy Building Determinants With Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Extremities: A Systematic Review


3: Impact of Indoor Air Quality and Breathing on Back and Neck Pain: A Systematic Review