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HEALTH

One billion Danish kroner assigned for ‘extraordinary’ health service spending

Significant extra funding is to be given to the Danish health service after the government and its parliamentary partners agreed a deal as part of the 2022 budget.

Denmark has an announced an emergency, one-off investment of one billion kroner on health services for winter 2021-22.
Denmark has an announced an emergency, one-off investment of one billion kroner on health services for winter 2021-22. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The deal means a billion kroner has been set aside for additional spending in extraordinary circumstances, and will be used to retain health sector staff and boost hospital capacity.

Following weekend negotiations, the parties behind the budget revealed that it would include a significant one-off investment in the public health service, which has come under increasing strain due to factors including the Covid-19 pandemic and industrial disputes, notably between nurses and the government.

The money is to be distributed to the regional authorities who can decide how to spend it in consultation with staff organisations, broadcaster DR writes.

As such, it is currently unclear precisely how the spending will resolve issues such as treatment backlogs and staff shortages.

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“Not least because of corona, our health service has been put under a considerable strain and we have therefore decided to put aside an extraordinary one billion kroner for a temporary response during the winter so we can protect our health service, our staff and our patients,” finance minister Nicolai Wammen said during the presentation of the budget.

Health minister Magnus Heunicke also commented on the decision, DR reports.

“It’s very unusual to give a billion kroner to one area in this way as part of a budget. But this is also an unusual situation,” Heunicke said.

The leader of one of the other parties behind the budget, Pia Olsen Dyhr of the Socialist People’s Party, called the decision an “acute solution”.

“But we are obviously not solving the big problem with equal pay or the health service in general. This is an acute solution which is needed at a very, very difficult time after two years with corona,” Dyhr said.

A trade union for social care workers expressed backing for the decision.

“This is a package that is extremely welcome. We’re in an extremely critical situation at hospitals and something needed to be done now. But it’s too early to speculate about what it will mean exactly for our members,” Mona Strib, head of FOA, the union that represents healthcare personnel including hospital social care staff, said in comments reported by DR.

“It could mean that some go from working part time to full time for a while, that some have a high amount of overtime, and that tasks are distributed between staff groups temporarily. We’ll see a hybrid of different solutions,” Strib added.

The deal also includes provisions to extend a freeze on taxation of extra income for people who take on extra jobs related to Covid-19 (such as retirees who work at test centres, for example).

It also earmarks spending to reduce processing times for authorisation of foreign health professionals, an area which is currently subject to severe delays.

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HEALTH

Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

A Danish LGBT+ rights group says that a decision by the country’s health authority to offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men, and have multiple sexual partners, is ‘what we have asked for’.

Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

Denmark will now offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men and have multiple sexual partners, the Danish Health Authority said on Tuesday.

Previously, the shots were only given to people who had been in close contact with a confirmed case.

Anyone can get monkeypox from close contact, not just men who have sex with men. However, high numbers of cases have been recorded in that group, in Denmark as well as internationally.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox: Denmark to offer vaccination to at-risk group

The head of secretariat with association LGBT+ Denmark, Susanne Branner Jespersen, told broadcaster DR the organisation was “pleased” that health authorities have broadened the segment to which vaccinations are offered.

“This is what we have asked for, so we can only be satisfied that they are now coming out with a vaccination strategy which fits with the needs we are seeing,” Jespersen said.

“Being vaccinated does not set aside the general guidelines which have come out, but it will give a higher degree of security,” she said.

The organisation last week called for the Danish Health Authority to offer the monkeypox vaccine to men who have sex with men.

That request has now been met. The vaccine is given as two injections at a 28-day interval.

The health authority is in dialogue with regional health providers and hospitals regarding how the vaccination effort will be coordinated and expects to begin vaccinations by the end of this week, new wire Ritzau reported.

The vice director of the Danish Health Authority, Helene Probst, DR on Tuesday that people in risk groups show be “extra aware” of symptoms, with case numbers currently increasing.

“Vaccination is one part of a strategy with several elements, but it is also important to be aware of symptoms,” Probst told DR.

Typical symptoms of Monkeypox are similar to those most experience with influenza.

Additional symptoms can include a rash in the groin area, itching and discomfort, and blisters in the mouth or on hands. Should these symptoms present, the sufferer should contact their doctor, be tested for monkeypox and avoid close contact with others.

The disease can be passed on to others once symptoms are present.

Latest data from the State Serum Institute (SSI), the national infectious disease agency, show that 126 people in Denmark have contracted monkeypox since the first case was detected in the country in late May.

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