Hospital conflict level rises

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An ongoing conflict over the massive reorganization of Oslo’s largest hospitals has intensified, after the employee representatives of several organizations for health care workers said they had no confidence in the leader of the state agency in charge.

The national hospital in Oslo, Rikshospitalet, is among those caught up in the conflict over budget cuts and reorganization. PHOTO: Views and News

“Bente Mikkelsen, leader of Helse Sør-Øst, no longer has any credibility,” was the message this week from all the employee organizations representing doctors, nurses, other health care workers and administrative personnel.

The conflict is rooted in the major organizational changes resulting from the controversial merger of the national hospital Rikshospitalet, the cancer hospital Radiumhospitalet, and the Ullevål and Aker hospitals, now all referred to as branches of Oslo University Hospital. Along with the reorganization has come demands for huge budget cuts that the health care professionals have called irresponsible. While state officials and politicians have claimed the cuts should not affect patient care, the health care workers claim that’s impossible.

Meanwhile, the hospitals are spending more than their new budgets allow, with the newly merged entity reportedly logging budget overruns of NOK 50 million per month.

Mikkelsen refused to comment on the criticism against her. The conflict has already led to the resignation of the head of the hospital earlier this year. State Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen has continued to claim the state has control over the situation and that patient care has top priority.

Views and News staff