As Norway’s election campaign heats up, politicians are making promises about everything from more funding for schools to cheaper housing. Health Minister Bent Høie promised more resources for hospitals this week, after the small opposition Center Party complained about too many patients having to lie in corridors.
Kjersti Toppe, a Member of Parliament for the Center Party and a doctor by profession, lashed out at the government for not addressing the problem of over-capacity at some hospitals. She proposed setting a maximum occupancy limit at Norway’s state-run hospitals of 85 percent, so that there would always be beds available in hospital rooms.
Kari Kjønaas Kjos, a member of the Parliament’s health and welfare committee, claimed it was audacious of Toppe to grab headlines with such criticism now, and wondered why Toppe’s party hadn’t fixed the problem of corridor patients when it held government power itself from 2005 to 2013. Toppe said that’s because she only now had results of German research on the issue and reaction from the Norwegian doctors’ medical association (Legeforening).
Høie, meanwhile, responded to the dispute by promising more resources to hospitals so they can reduce their numbers of patients lying on beds in corridors. Høie also said no local hospitals will be shut down during the current administration, although some changes will be made in the structure of medical care on offer to make it more efficient.
That, he said, means that some surgical departments may be merged, with various hospitals specializing in various services. He plans to put forward a new national health and hospital plan in October.