State seeks to cure hospital crisis

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Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen has made another attempt to cure what’s widely viewed as an extremely unhealthy merger of Oslo’s major hospitals. She’s brought in a new chairman for the merged entity, Oslo University Hospital, from Bergen.

Stener Kvinnsland, age 63, will take over after helping guide a major reorganization of health care delivery systems on the west coast. Now he says the first thing he’ll do is talk with the doctors, nurses and other health care workers who’ve been complaining bitterly that the massive reorganization demanded of them in Oslo is threatening patient care.

“It’s sad it’s become so tough,” Kvinnsland told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) after being named to the past on Tuesday. He’ll replace Göran Stiernstedt, who’ll continue as deputy chairman.

Former McKinsey consultant Odd Christopher Hansen, whose former employer has had major consulting contracts with the state health ministry for years and worked on the hospital merger, will leave the board and that’s cheered health care workers who feel Hansen has had a “double role” in hospital operations. Two other board members, politicians Gro Balas and Guro Fjellanger, will also be replaced, by medical professionals.

Strøm-Erichsen, acutely aware of the uncertainy and unrest among hospital personnel, said it will be the new leaders’ job to calm and reassure both hospital staff and patients. She’s still determined to make the merger work. “It’s demanding, but we must take this step by step,” she said, noting that she expects employee cooperation.

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