A long-running conflict over where a new hospital in Nordland County would be built and others shut down, was finally settled this week. Health Minister Bent Høie decided that the new hospital for the Helgeland region would be built in Sandnessjøen, and an existing hospital at Mo i Rana would remain open as well.
It means an existing hospital in Mosjøen will be shut down, while a medical center in Bronnøysund would also remain open. Mosjøen residents weren’t happy but the settlement otherwise seemed well-received.
The conflict began in 2015, when state administrators in charge of hospitals decided that a new hospital was needed in Helgeland but that it was too expensive for the region and its 80,000 residents to have three hospitals. Others argued the multiple locations are important when bad weather and distance can prove life-threatening in cases of acute medical emergencies.
The decision to keep an emergency hospital in Mo i Rana open, with a maternity ward, was the consolation prize for residents on the inland side of Helgeland. Residents were jubilant in Sandnessjøen, where local hospital adminstrators will also be relocated when the new facility opens in 2025.
The decision may also have ramifications for similar conflicts in Møre og Romsdal and Finnmark, where hospitals are few and far between. The consolidation of hospitals in Molde and Kristiansund has generated protests, while Finnmark residents have long had to deal with lengthy trips to obtain medical assistance.