Denmark must do more to avoid shortage of nurses: health authority

Denmark’s regional health authorities have welcomed recommendations from representative organisations on how to increase recruitment of nurses.

Denmark must do more to avoid shortage of nurses: health authority
File photo: LINDA KASTRUP/Ritzau Scanpix

The country's health service is concerned about a future shortage of nurses, with the primary healthcare professionals already in short supply.

“We can already see that we have challenges with recruitment in a number of places. Looking forward, there are going to be many, many more elderly people,” said Anders Kühnau, chairperson of the Central Jutland Region health authority and head of the national salaries committee for the health service.

“This means we will have a real shortage of nurses in the coming years if nothing is done now,” Kühnau added.

Suggestions offered by the Danish Nurses’ Organization (Dansk Sygeplejeråd) and National Association of Nursing Students (Sygeplejestuderendes Landssammenslutning) would be in addition to an already-agreed political measure which aims to increase the number of nurses in Denmark by 1,100.

The 1,100 figure primarily be achieved by increasing the number of admissions to the country’s nursing vocational degree programme.

Meanwhile, the two organisations have suggested scrapping planned budget cuts to nursing degrees, ensuring full-time employment for newly-qualified nurses and improving wages and working conditions.

The latter of those three measures would attract more nurses to Denmark’s public health service, the organisations said.

But Denmark’s Regions, the elected regional authorities responsible for operating the country’s hospitals, say they are restricted by existing budgets.

“We do not have the money in Regional budgets for a wage increase or better working environments. So that is something the government and Parliament will have to find the money for, if it is going to happen,” Kühnau said.

“We don’t know exactly how many nurses we are going to be short. But we know we are going to be short of nurses.

“So it is important that more people complete the qualifications and that more nurses who are currently working outside of our health service return to it,” he continued.

The suggestions made by the two organisations would boost nurse numbers by 2,400 by 2026 in addition to the 1,100 already targeted by the political agreement, Ritzau writes.

READ ALSO: Denmark's Regions set to be disbanded after 12 years

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Emergency room visits to cost 50 francs in Switzerland

People who visit the emergency room for non-urgent treatment will now need to pay 50 francs after the Swiss government issued final approval for a rule change.

An ambulance approaches Geneva University Hospital. Emergency room visits will now cost 50 francs in Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
An ambulance approaches Geneva University Hospital. Emergency room visits will now cost 50 francs in Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The proposal was originally developed by Zurich National Council member Thomas Weibel and received approval by the National Council in 2019. 

The Council of States on Wednesday accepted the parliamentary initiative, meaning that people who seek treatment in the emergency room for non-urgent health issues a fee of 50 francs. 

This will be introduced as a co-pay, meaning that the patients would have to pay out of their own pockets (i.e. it will not be covered by insurance). 

READ MORE: Switzerland to introduce 50 franc fee for emergency room visits

MPs argued that this measure may dissuade those who are not seriously ill from going to the emergency room and overloading the system, while also taking medical staff away from patients who need urgent help.

Opponents countered that this may discourage people from visiting hospital who actually need treatment, however the measure passed with a narrow majority. 

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

No concrete indications were given as to what amounts to ’non-urgent’ treatment in the eyes of the law.

This is expected to be laid out by the National Council who are now charged with the responsibility of drafting the rules. 

Exemptions could apply to children and adolescents under the age of 16, patients referred to the emergency room by a doctor, and those whose treatment subsequently requires hospitalisation.