Health Minister Bent Høie has approved plans to radically restructure Oslo’s state-owned hospitals. The historic and sprawling Ullevål University Hospital will be shut down, and mostly replaced by a new hospital to be built adjacent to the national hospital Rikshospitalet at Gaustad.
The old Aker Hospital that was controversially shut down several years ago will also be rebuilt and reopened, to act as a local hospital for the central and east Oslo area. Norway’s leading hospital for cancer patients, Radiumhospitalet, will also be expanded.
The plans remain controversial not least because of the expense involved, expected to be at least NOK 20 billion (USD 2.3 billion). Doctors are complaining that state authorities balk at spending money on new cancer treatments but still manage to find hundreds of millions for new facilities. Critics aren’t letting hospital administrators in Oslo forget that they made a big mistake when they shut down Aker, but are glad the hospital finally will reopen.
“After many years with lots of discussion, I now want to cut through it all and approve how the hospitals in the Oslo region will be structured in the future,” Høie said just before the weekend. Finance Minister Siv Jensen also was glad the roughly 160,000 people living in the Groduddalen district, who were transferred in an ill-advised move to a new hospital in Lørenskog, will now get their own local hospital back.
It will still take years before the new hospitals are completed and moves can be made, probably sometime in the mid-2020s.