Lack of staff ‘biggest challenge’ for Danish health authorities

A lack of staff in the Danish health system is the greatest challenge currently faced by the sector in the country, according to a senior health official.

Lack of staff 'biggest challenge' for Danish health authorities
Nurses are among qualified staff expected to be in shortage in Denmark in coming years. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The head of the health committee for Denmark’s Regional health authorities, Karin Friis Bach, raised concerns over the staff shortage in comments to DR on Friday and repeated those sentiments in an interview with news wire Ritzau on Saturday.

The five Regions, the authorities which administrate hospitals and public healthcare services in Denmark, believe staff shortages are likely to cause issues for a number of years into the future.

“We are looking at some smaller year groups [graduating from education programmes, ed.] which will be the ones taking jobs in the health service at the same time the number of elderly people with chronic illnesses increases,” Bach said.

The Covid-19 crisis and resultant strain on the health service has further exacerbated staffing challenges at hospitals and clinics, she said.

“That gave an extra push to the problem we were already looking at, “she said.

The senior health official said that while sufficient funding was important, health services could not exist without sufficient staff.

Regional health boards have long expected to see staff shortages hit in coming years and have therefore looked for ways to address the issue.

“This is about how we can use the resources we have in the most sensible way possible. We are working with digitisation, with more targeted treatment, and with giving more focuses pathways for patients,” she said.

Last week’s announcement by universities of their new intakes for the forthcoming academic year showed an ongoing decline in the popularity of occupations including nursing as well as childcare and teaching.

Those three education programme types, as well as social worker educations, have seen an overall decrease by 14 percent in application numbers since 2019.

Member comments

  1. One compromise may be to offer foreign students enrollments and stipends, and a commitment to stay and practice medicine or nursing for X years after school and boards are complete, or they have to pay it back. Very common in other countries.

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Danish high schools to offer enrolment exam two weeks after term starts

Danish upper secondary schools – commonly referred to as ‘gymnasium’ – are to introduce new admission tests allowing new students to enrol after the start of term.

Danish high schools to offer enrolment exam two weeks after term starts

An extra admission test for young people who want to attend gymnasier – upper secondary schools, attended by young people aged 16-19 – will be offered two weeks after the normal start of term, Denmark’s ministry for education said in a press statement on Thursday.

The idea is aimed at applicants who begin a different education course but quickly regret their choice and decide instead to apply for gymnasium, which is the most straightforward path to university.

The new tests will be available from the current academic year onwards, meaning students about to begin the new school term will be able to fall back on it should they decide to.

The extra admission tests will take place on August 25th, the education ministry said.

“The introduction of the extra admission test should be seen in light of the fact that the last exams under the current system take place before the start of the school term. It was therefore necessary last year to conduct extraordinary admissions tests after the start of term,” the ministry said.

The new system removes the need for “extraordinary” exams with a set late exam already placed in the schedule, the ministry added.

All students who apply to an upper secondary school after the start of term will be required to pass the test to be enrolled.