Danish patient organisations call for more foreign staff to ease strain on hospitals

Herlev Hospital. An association for patients in Denmark has called for more foreign professionals to help ease labour shortages-
Herlev Hospital. An association for patients in Denmark has called for more foreign professionals to help ease labour shortages- Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix
An association for patients in Denmark says more foreign professionals should be hired to ease understaffing problems at hospitals.

Both short-term and long-term problems with a lack of medical staff at hospitals in Denmark must be addressed, said Danske Patienter, the umbrella organisation for all societies for patients and their loved ones in the country.

The call from the organisation comes after many doctors and nurses said in a study that the pressure on hospitals was adversely affecting patients.

The deputy director of Danske Patienter Annette Wandel said capacity in both the private and public healthcare sectors must be increased. More staff must be retained in the sector while a higher number trained, she said.

“And the option of using foreign labour must be brought into play,” she added.

The survey which forms the background to Danske Patienter’s response was made in collaboration with a number of unions for Danish medical professionals – including senior consultants, junior doctors and nurses – as part of a documentary by broadcaster TV2.

54 percent of junior doctors said in the survey that understaffing or high workloads have contributed to patients’ conditions worsening.

Consultants and nurses said the same thing in 47 and 46 percent of cases respectively.

Some of the doctors and nurses went as far as to say that the pressure on staff could have fatal consequences, with 9 percent of junior doctors and nurses saying that understaffing or high workloads have been a contributory factor in the death of a patient.

Wandel said the situation is extremely serious.

“We are in a very critical situation,” she said, citing the coronavirus crisis and nurses’ strikes as having brought the health system under increasing strain.

“It can be very dangerous for patients if more mistakes happen,” she added.


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