Closure looms for Oslo hospital

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Vigorous protests and even a march on May Day haven’t helped improve the diagnosis for Aker University Hospital in Oslo. The popular local hospital seems stuck in its death throes, after a majority in Parliament turned down a proposal to ensure its continued operations.

Protesters marched through the streets over the weekend, in another effort to "Let Aker live," but their cries to keep Aker University Hospital open have fallen have deaf ears. PHOTO: Views and News

Health care administrators have been keen to suspend Aker’s full hospital operations as part of their cost-cutting efforts. They want to move all the patients now served by the hospital north of downtown, most of whom live in Groruddalen, to the new hospital called Ahus in Lørenskog.

It seems they’ll get their way. Despite strong opposition from the public and unusually united politicians for the City of Oslo, members of Parliament voted on Tuesday against a proposal to keep Aker open and running as a full-service hospital. 

Even though Norway’s left-center coalition government made campaign promises that no local hospitals would be closed, they’re not saving Aker. Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen of the Labour Party has accepted health care administrators’ proposal that Aker should be closed.

Strøm-Erichsen claims all Oslo residents, including those served by Aker, will continue to receive “good hospital service,” and that they won’t suffer by being reassigned to Ahus in Lørenskog, even though it’s farther away.

Members of the Progress Party and the Christian Democrats Party accused the government, and Strøm-Erichsen, of breaking their promises. A neighborhood hospital in Oslo, they claim, is just as much of a “local hospital” as those in outlying districts of Norway.

Oslo officials are particularly annoyed, because they turned over hospital operations to the state in a major reform movement several years ago. They had tried, unsuccessfully, to “buy back” Aker and keep it running.

Views and News staff