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CANCER

Cancer survival rates in Denmark improved: report

Denmark's healthcare system has become better at testing for and treating cancer, according to a new report.

Cancer survival rates in Denmark improved: report
File photo: CLAUS FISKER/Scanpix Denmark

The country now has survival figures close to those of neighbours Sweden, Norway and Finland, closing a previously significant gap.

An international study concluded that more people in Denmark are now surviving cancer, reports Videnskab.dk.

“It is fantastic that we have managed to turn the statistics around in just 15 years,” Gerda Engholm, senior statistician with the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse), told Videnskab.dk.

Engholm provided Danish statistics to the study, which was carried out by international medical journal The Lancet.

“We have made up ground on the other Nordic countries in many areas. We are still not quite as good, be we have really gained a lot,” she said.

One area of dramatic improvement is prostate cancer, with a 35 percent increase in survival rates.

The general improvement is related to investment in better equipment and shorter waiting times for diagnosis and treatment over the last 15 years.

Denmark, like the other Nordic countries, is now one of the leading countries internationally for treating the disease.

“We have good reason to assume that [Danish regional health authority investments and initiatives] have played a significant part [in the improvement],” said Elisabeth Lynge, professor at the University of Copenhagen and Nykøbing Falster hospital, to Videnskab.dk.

Lynge has researched cancer prevalence and the effect of breast cancer screening on survival rates.

Engholm said she agreed with the assessment that measures taken by authorities were paying off.

“Cancer has come to be seen as an acute illness where waiting times can have decisive effects on survival. This is particularly crucial with certain types of cancer,” she said.

Practice regarding screening for the disease was changed in the early 200s from testing for individual diseases to a more comprehensive approach, in which patients were given appointments for tests for a range of cancer types.

READ ALSO: Denmark still worst country in the Nordics for cancer (from 2017)

HEALTH

Danish government reaches agreement on ‘1,000 nurses’ plan

The government has reached agreement with health authorities on how to fulfil an election pledge to increase the number of nurses in the country’s public health system by 1,000.

Danish government reaches agreement on '1,000 nurses' plan
Photo: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The government agreed with Danish Regions, the interest organisation for the country’s five regional health authorities, a deal to ensure that 1,000 more nurses will arrive in 2021, as promised in December’s budget.

500 of the nurses are to be found this year.

“The agreement means a significant and specified effort in relation to nurses at hospitals, which we will follow up to ensure that we reach the target of 1,000 more nurses,” finance minister Nicolai Wammen said.

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The Danish Nurses' Organization (Dansk Sygeplejeråd) supports the deal, Ritzau reports.

The Social Democratic minority government reached in December an agreement with allied parties to provide 300 million kroner this year and 600 million kroner annually from next year to hire more nurses.

The purpose of that investment is to employ a total of 1,000 more nurses by next year, with the first 500 to be found in 2020.

Danish Regions will set in motion a number of measures aimed at achieving those objectives, including getting hospital staff to go from part-time to full-time, and all new positions being full-time.

In addition, better introductory courses will be introduced for new graduates, while practical elements of nursing degrees will be changed in an effort to reduce the drop-out rate of the programmes.

“On behalf of both patients and employees, I am pleased that this agreement ensures funding for more hands at hospitals,” Danish Regions chairperson Stephanie Lose said.

“This will improve treatment for patients and the working environment on the wards. However, recruitment is a major challenge as there is not a great deal of unemployment amongst nurses, which is also the case for other staff groups,” Lose added.

“I am therefore very pleased that we are in agreement with the professional organizations [unions, ed.] on a joint effort to get more people to go full-time, as this will also contribute to increasing workforce,” she added.

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