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Friday, July 12, 2024

Health official’s hoax stuns ministry

A top state official charged with authorizing health care workers in Norway has resigned after newspaper VG revealed she had falsified her own credentials for the job. Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen is among those saying they’re “shocked” by their colleague’s long-running hoax.

In happier days: Liv Løberg PHOTO: Vestby Kommune

Liv Løberg, age 60, has been administration chief of the State Authority for Health Care Personnel (SAFH) and also has been a county politician in Akershus and even a stand-in Member of Parliament for the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp).

Løberg resigned from her post at SAFH on Thursday when she realized VG would be reporting that she has lied about her academic and professional background. She now faces police charges as well over her fraud.

Løberg, married to the chief of security for the Norwegian Parliament, Gerrit Løberg. also has worked for the state veterinary college, Ullevål Hospital and the Meteological Institute and all have been notified of her fraud. It’s up to them whether they also will file charges against her.

Løberg admitted to her superiors that she had lied and falsified both her CV and documents pertaining to her education and work experience. She never did receive the education she had claimed from the London School of Economics, Queen Mary College in London or the Norwegian business school NHH in Bergen. 

The case is especially disturbing for Norwegian health care authorities because Løberg was in charge of certifying the qualifications of doctors, nurses and dentists in Norway. Her duties included making sure that the agency she headed had checked the diplomas, CVs and other documents submitted by those seeking certification in Norway, when she in fact had falsified her own. 

The authorization agency SAFH itself states that it has zero tolerance for false documents and has a policy of reporting any forgery attempts to the police. Her bosses all the way up to Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen are deeply shaken that a trusted colleague is guilty of such forgery herself.

“This is a serious case and represents a grave breach of trust,” the state’s asistant health director Bjørn Guldvog told VG. “I’m stunned, furious and shocked.”

Guldvog said he didn’t know why she had falsified her credentials. Health Minister Anne-Grethe Strøm-Erichsen said she was “shocked” as well.

“I’m stunned and surprised and not least very disappointed that something like this can happen,” Strøm-Erichsen told VG Nett, worrying that a case like this can damage the credibility of a state agency like the one Løberg headed. She called for a thorough investigation of how Løberg could have falsified her own documents when she assumed her post just last year.

Løberg wouldn’t respond to VG’s questions but hired an attorney to represent her, who confirmed she’d admitted the forgery. A spokeswoman for the Progress Party, which Løberg represented in her political work, said party officials were also “shocked and sorry” and called Løberg’s forgery “completely unacceptable.” It hadn’t yet been decided, though, whether Løberg would be excluded from the party.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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