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Competitiveness / Healthcare


Pressures in the Swedish healthcare system as hospital beds become scarce.

Saturday, 28 September 2013
We reported recently that more Swedes were choosing to have their healthcare needs from abroad, within the EU and identified that long waiting list in Swedish hospitals was to be blamed.

That view has been bolstered today with the revelation that there are 2,400 fewer hospital beds in Swedish hospitals today compared to ten years ago, according to figures from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), reports by various Swedish media sources.

Boasting about good Swedish public finances by the current conservative government while cutting vital public services has been the rhetoric for the past 7 years they have been in office  and now the effect has seen Sweden sliding down the table as some of the leading countries in services such as healthcare. 
 Shortages of beds in swedish hopitalsSahlgrenska hospitals emergency service / Granscole
By cutting hospital bed, it has led to overcrowding, which in turn has led to increased deaths. There have also been pressures on the emergency rooms, propping up a chaotic situations with the care delivery paths  and a poor working environment for staff.

A survey conducted by radio Sweden  last fall showed that nearly 500 patients a day were being treated in hospitals that had no place for them. Over 200 were in the wrong departments because of lack of space. In January this year, the various county healthcare services in the country also showed overcrowding, according to a report from the county council umbrella organization, SKL.

When making comparisons, it has persistently shown that countries of the OECD are having something of an average 4.9 beds per 1,000 inhabitants, while Sweden only has 2.7.

The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), the government agency in Sweden which comes under the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, and which has the task to oversee the health care delivery and operations in Sweden argues that lack of fund is not the reason for the problems. The organisation blames the problems to hospitals poor management of resources.

That accusation has been countered by pathologist consultant, Michael Eriksson who heads the care delivery operations in the Skåne region, southern Sweden.

He argues that the problems being faced in the Swedish care delivery system has to do with money "Of course it is about money. It is clear that the county councils and regions are trying to hold down their rate as much as possible and chose to prioritize other stuff," he said to radio Sweden.

Mikael Eriksson wants the government to create a reward for care delivery model, i.e. a system in which the state rewards counties that reduce overcrowding most.

Social Affairs minister, Göran Hägglund doubts the proposal, though it is under his watch that the crisis in the Swedish healthcare system is unravelling and  he is not coming along with any long standing solution.

I will not rule it out, but we can not have programs for everything from the national level. Remember that the county councils are responsible for that. Today there is no money set aside for that purpose," said Hagglund as reported on radio Sweden.
By Team

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