Essential Pain Management UK

"EPM - a simple structure to teach a complex subject"

What is Essential Pain Management UK?

A survey of pain education (Briggs et al) within undergraduate healthcare studies estimated that ‘the identification, assessment and treatment of pain represent less than 1% of the university-based teaching for healthcare professionals’.  

The EPM course was developed by Roger Gouke and Wayne Morriss (ANZCA) to fulfill a training need in less-developed countries.  It was subsequently adapted for medical student use by Linda Huggins (Aukland, NZ).  Since 2014, we have been using the EPM structure in the UK as a mechanism for training medical students, post-graduate doctors and a variety of allied healthcare professionals in pain management.

EPM is centred around the simple acronym, RAT (recognise, assess, treat), which provides a memorable structure and standardizes the approach to teaching.  Within this structure, all aspects of acute, chronic and complex pain can be taught in a clear and concise way.   There is no other such structure available in the widely published literature and therefore, we believe that RAT fills a gap in previous training.

Useful and practical course, good interaction and enjoyable

4th year Medical Student, Bristol

The role of EPM in UK teaching

  • To highlight the gap in existing undergraduate and post-graduate training regarding pain management in general, including focus on complex, longstanding pain and appropriate use of medications.  
  • To raise awareness that pain is a multifactorial condition, which is often poorly managed, is seen across all specialties and that current graduates are under-equipped to manage this substantial cohort of patients.
  • To build upon existing basic medical science teaching in pain medicine and to bridge the gap between this and clinical practice.
  • To emphasize the benefit of the recognize, assess, treat (RAT) structure as a mechanism for simplifying the complexity of pain and thereby facilitate understanding of pathophysiology, clinical assessment and appropriate biopsychosocial management.
  • To encourage the use of a common framework for pain management across all specialties and professions.
  • To promote training, which provides the basis for appropriate prescribing and non-medication management decisions, with the aim of reducing the harm to patients currently caused by excessive medication and protect patients from pharmacological harm in the future.
  • To improve training of medical teams, resulting in their enhanced satisfaction for a poorly understood group of patients.
  • To motivate medical students, qualified medical staff, patients and other interested parties into taking personal action, with the aim of encouraging local and national training curricula/programmes to fill this curriculum gap.
  • To provide evidence of need for training in pain management to stakeholders, including local Medical Schools, Deaneries, Royal Colleges, Medical School Council and other national pre and post-graduate training bodies.

I particularly liked the physiology lecture – very informative and interactive – make all lectures like that

4th year Medical Student, Bristol

Key features of the RAT structure


Individual and cultural influences on pain presentations

Impact of pain on patients, family, society

Benefits of effectively managing pain

Review of pain pathophysiology


Site, severity, cause

Classification of pain:

  • Acute or chronic
  • Nocicpetive or neuropathic
  • Cancer or non-cancer

Non-pharmacological, including the role of psychology in pain experience


  • WHO ladder for cancer pain
  • WHO reverse ladder for severe, acute pain
  • Antineuropathics
  • Appropriate use of opioids

Placebo effect 

Materials for the complete EPM course are freely available via the links below and provide useful insight into the RAT structure but use of the entire course is not mandatory.  The RAT framework can be used as a standard anchor by anyone teaching pain management and new teaching sessions with specific objectives can be easily built within this context.  Any existing pain teaching can be framed within the RAT model with ease.

If you would like more information, please email the Faculty at contact@fpm.ac.uk

Very useful interactive session. I hadn't heard of the reverse pain ladder before

FY2 Doctor, Gloucestershire

EPM Advisory Group

Within the Faculty, EPM UK is managed by the EPM Advisory Group, with membership as follows:

  • Dr Helen Makins (Clinical Lead) 
  • Dr Sibtain Anwar (Deputy Clinical Lead)
  • Dr Clare Roques (EPM Global Liaison)
  • Dr Hoo Kee Tsang
  • Dr Naomi Scott
  • Dr Sailesh Mishra
  • Dr Karen Gilmore
  • Dr Venkat Hariharan
  • Dr Jonny Rajan
  • Dr Alan Fayaz
  • Dr William Rea
  • Mr Daniel Waeland (Head of Faculties)
  • Ms Caitlin McAnulty (FPM Professional Affairs Manager)


EPM Regional Leads

This Advisory Group includes our EPM Regional Leads who work to promote the delivery of EPM throughout the UK. Please see below for a list of Regions and associated Regional Leads.

EPM Region EPM Regional Lead
South Western, Severn Dr Helen Makins
South Western (Plymouth) Dr Karen Gilmore
Wessex Dr Karen Gilmore
Wales Dr Helen Makins
Oxford Dr Venkat Hariharan
East of England Dr Venkat Hariharan
East Midlands Vacant
North West Dr Jonny Rajan
North / South Thames Dr Alan Fayaz
Northern Ireland Vacant
Scotland Dr Naomi Scott
Liverpool Dr Hoo Kee Tsang
Northern and Yorkshire Dr Sailesh Mishra
West Midlands Dr William Rea




Further Reading for Students

EPM Online Resource - This can be used by your students as a follow-on to EPM UK. Please ensure that University of Auckland, Wayne Morriss, Roger Goucke, and Linda Huggins are all acknowledged each time this resource is circulated or publicised.