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EXPLAINED: How could a new GP funding model in Norway affect you?

The Norwegian government has announced new measures to try and clear up a GP crisis. But how will it affect you and your healthcare needs? 

Pictured is a doctor's equipment.
Pictured is a doctor's equipment. Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

On Tuesday, the Norwegian Minister of Health and Social Care announced at a press briefing that the government would introduce a new funding model for the GP system from May 1st. 

The new system would also come with 720 million kroner of additional funding to try and ease a GP crisis in the country. 

Some 200,000 residents are currently without a regular doctor in Norway, and last year, the GP service received a record number of complaints. 

“The GP scheme is the foundation of our health service. Over a long period of time, the foundation wall has cracked,” Kjerkol said at the briefing. 

The government’s changes mean that GPs would receive subsidies based on patients’ needs rather than a flat rate for all healthcare recipients. 

Essentially this means that doctors who have lots of patients who are elderly, women, or live in municipalities where residents have a lower educational background will receive more money. This is because these patients are deemed to require more follow-ups from doctors.

Additionally, doctors outside the big cities with patients with existing health conditions which require regular appointments or follow-ups would also receive more money. 

This, in theory, should make it easier for patients with the most significant medical needs to access GP appointments. Ensuring greater funding for doctors with more demanding workloads could also have the effect of retaining more GPs. 

In a previous survey run by The Local, foreign residents in Norway highlighted that trouble getting an appointment or not being assigned a GP was one of their biggest criticisms of the Norwegian healthcare system, which they rated favourably overall. 

Earlier this year, it was reported by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that there were a record number of complaints about the GP service in Norway. Most complaints were regarding a lack of adequate follow-up and availability. 

For those not deemed to have higher medical needs, the changes may not improve your chances of getting a GP when you need one.

Another change proposed is allowing doctors with a significant workload to cut their patient lists. The government says this will make the workload more manageable and facilitate better healthcare for the patients that remain on the list. 

Previously the Norwegian Association for General Practitioners has said that the high number of patients on GP lists is a major issue for general doctors in Norway. 

“The GPs must have fewer patients on their lists in order for there to be liveable working conditions. It will also lead to fewer doctors wanting to quit, and more newly qualified doctors wanting to work as GPs,” Nils Kristian Klev, head of the Association for General Practitioners, told broadcaster TV 2 last year. 

However, doctors being able to trim down patient lists may also lead to more residents in Norway without a GP, further exacerbating the issue of patients needing access to a regular doctor. 

This is just in theory, though, and it may take months and years to determine whether lowering the workload will lead to more doctors being retained without the added drawback of patients being left without a GP. 

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Norway’s parliament agrees on health measures aimed at children 

A majority in Norway’s parliament has agreed on prohibiting the marketing of unhealthy food to young people under 18 and a ban on the sale of energy drinks to those younger than 16. 

Norway’s parliament agrees on health measures aimed at children 

On Tuesday, Norway’s parliament (the Storting) agreed on two measures aimed at the health of young people following recommendations from the Health and Social Committee. 

The majority who voted for the proposal are MPs from the Labour Party, Centre Party, Socialist Left Party and the Red Party. The current age limit for the advertisement of unhealthy food is 13, health news outlet Dagens Medisin writes. 

Cecilie Myrseth has said that she was happy several parties were able to work together to secure a majority for the proposal.

“The amount of advertising children and young people are exposed to affects eating habits and health – and more and more children are affected by obesity. Then we have to take action where we can to protect and prevent,” she told Norwegian newswire NTB. 

Norway’s parliament has also agreed to ban the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16. 

Bård Hoksrud, the health policy spokesman for the Progress Party, told broadcaster TV 2 that children under 16 will get their hands on energy drinks regardless of the ban. Instead, he said more effort should go towards providing children and young people with better information. 

A majority was also in favour of giving sleep a more significant place in public health work and increased sanctioning of beauty clinics and influencers for illegal marketing of cosmetic procedures.