Hospital budget cut to the bone

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As feared last week, the board of the Oslo hospitals forming the newly merged Oslo University Hospital ordered administrators to make huge cost cuts to avoid a budget shortfall of NOK 500 million (USD 90 million). The cuts may mean hundreds of staff layoffs.

Hospital administrator Siri Hatlen had presented a budget with cuts amounting to half the amount, claiming it wasn’t possible to cut more without affecting patient care. The board rejected her budget, insisting that the full NOK 500 million in costs be eliminated.

Some doctors and employee representatives believe the cuts will affect the merger itself of the Aker, Radium/Rikshospitalet and Ullevål hospitals initiated in 2009. The three state-owned hospitals care for more than 1.2 million patients a year and run nine clinics and other operations at 40 locations.

They currently employ around 20,000 people and many were expected to transfer to the new Akerhus University Hospital when it opened and assumed responsibility for thousands of residents of northeast Oslo. They didn’t leave voluntarily, though, and that’s a key reason why layoffs now loom.

Opposition politicians used the latest hospital budget crisis to claim that the left-center government’s hospital politics are out of control. Government ministers have been trying to stay out of the issue, claiming it must be settled between the administrators and board of of the hospital, which is owned by state agency Helse Sør-Øst.

Views and News staff