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HEALTH

Danish health authorities to spend on recruitment and postpone construction in 2023

Denmark’s five regional health boards have finalised budgets for 2023, with recruitment and improvement of working environments largely prioritised over expansion and construction projects.

Danish health authorities to spend on recruitment and postpone construction in 2023
Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen. Regional health boards have set their budgets for 2023, with focus on addressing staff shortages. File photo: Hannah Mckay/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The budgets will provide more money for recruiting and retaining staff, improving work environments at hospitals and on local services.

Spending on facilities has been given lower priority, meaning several construction projects are to be postponed, the collective organisation for the regional health authorities, Danske Regioner, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Regions are attempting to address a labour shortage in the health service and the new budgets reflect this, national chairperson Anders Kühnau said.

“In the regions we have great focus on patients that are waiting for treatment here and now. It is therefore our top priority to acquire relevant personnel so we can reduce waiting times for patients,” Kühnau said in the statement.

“That applies to strain at emergency departments, psychiatric departments and operatin theatres right now – but also to longer-term challenges,” he said.

Spending on local services includes boosted budgets for GP services.

Reduced spending on physical facilities is linked in part to the current climate of high energy costs and inflation.

“Prices are increasing and we must be responsible in the Regions. Specifically, that will mean that some construction projects must unfortunately be postponed. Only the most essential will be prioritised,” Kühnau said.

The suspended constructions and those that will still go ahead were not specified.

Regional budget agreements for 2023 also include funding for cyber security. Extra spending will also go on drinking water and decontamination of ground pollution.

Regions – and their elected boards – administrate public hospitals and the GP system. They also orchestrate regional mass transit and are involved in welfare and social development.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between a municipality and a region in Denmark?

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HEALTH

Denmark considers moving outpatient nurses to night shifts to ease shortage

Danish hospitals could ask nurses that usually work in outpatient services to cover night and weekend shifts in an effort to ease a lack of staff cover.

Denmark considers moving outpatient nurses to night shifts to ease shortage

The Danish Regions, the elected bodies which operate hospitals in Denmark’s five regions, are considering a plan to require nurses who work at outpatient clinics to fill night and weekend shifts in hospitals, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports.

The policy would aim to prevent hospital nurses — particularly those working in intensive care, surgery, and emergency departments — from leaving the public system for more favourable working conditions at private clinics. 

Nurses in departments with shift rotas bear the brunt of a nurse labour shortage, meaning many must take on an untenable number of night and weekend shifts as many of their colleagues leave, according to the report.

“The lack of staff is currently the biggest challenge for the health service and a more transparent and fair rota, in which staff have an input on their schedules, is one of the most important keys to becoming a more attractive place of work and retaining personnel,” Stephanie Lose, chair of the Southern Denmark regional council and vice-president of the Danish Regions, told Jyllands-Posten.

“We have to share the heavy on-call load on to more shoulders, and our clear message is that all hospitals must work with this systematically in all areas, otherwise we will not achieve our goal,” she said.

The Danish Regions want to base the plan on a model already used in the South Denmark region, according to Jyllands-Posten.

This would mean staff having rotas with at least eight weeks’ notice, and weekend shifts no more often than every third week.

The Regions also propose that nurses employed in outpatient clinics spend a third of their working time on the schedule in an inpatient ward.

The leader of Danish trade union for nurses DSR, Grete Christensen, did not dismiss the prospect in comments to Jyllands-Posten.

Christensen warned against forcing all hospitals and departments to comply with a defined model, however.

She said that the essence of the problem is a lack of nurses in the public health system.

READ ALSO: Denmark takes ‘far too long’ to approve qualifications of foreign medics, nurses 

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