Crisis situation at Swedish hospitals

A recent report on Swedish television about the state of the country's healthcare system has shocked the population. For years hospitals have been suffering from nursing staff shortages, beds have been left unoccupied and patients face long waiting times for operations. And according to the report the problems have taken on life-threatening proportions in many areas. Newspapers take the politicians to task.

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Expressen (SE) /

A life-threatening lack of resources

Expressen is dismayed by the conditions in a country that calls itself a welfare state:

“Not even children are spared in this crisis. At Stockholm's new Karolinska Hospital a third of the beds are empty and one in ten of the operations on children has been cancelled this year. ... The acute problem is the shortage of nurses. It is forcing hospitals to leave beds unused. ... Never before has so much money been allocated to the healthcare system, but it is being misused. The Social Democrats in Stockholm want people to come to the polyclinics for regular health checks. In other words completely healthy people use up resources that can barely cover the needs of the sick. The chronic crisis is undermining trust in the politicians. The question is whether Sweden can continue calling itself a social welfare state when children are dying unnecessarily.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Healthcare in crisis

In Aftonbladet's view the situation is above all the result of poor decisions at the political level:

“Sweden has the fewest hospital beds per capita in Europe. So it's no wonder voters always put healthcare at the top of the list when asked what topics they see as most important. ... It's the politicians who have pushed health into the shadows. There was a time when the minister for social affairs was just as important as the finance minister. ... Then along came [the conservative government] and gave the smallest party [the Christian Democrats] the responsibility for healthcare. And this trend has continued under the Social Democrats. ... Sweden's public healthcare needs a crisis committee and a minister who can overhaul the entire system.”