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HEALTH

Illegal immigrant denied abortion in Oslo

Oslo University Hospital has received a rap on the knuckles from a health service watchdog after it demanded advance payment from an undocumented migrant from West Africa who wanted an abortion.

The woman, who is in her early twenties, first informed medical staff of her unwanted pregnancy at the city’s Health Centre for Undocumented Immigrants, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

The clinic referred her to Oslo University Hospital, where an ultrasound examination confirmed that she was eight to nine weeks pregnant.

But instead of performing the abortion as requested by the patient, the hospital asked for payment in advance.  

A medical abortion was not an option in the woman’s case, and a surgical abortion would have cost her 4,000 to 12,000 kroner ($650-2,000), a fee she could not afford.

The Health Centre for Undocumented Immigrants then made an appointment for her at the nearby Akershus University Hospital, where the abortion was duly carried out.

The health centre, run jointly by the Church City Mission and the Red Cross, subsequently lodged a complaint with the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, claiming Oslo University Hospital’s decision not to perform the abortion was indefensible.

The centre also called for the hospital to put in place new procedures for dealing with cases involving undocumented migrants.

The watchdog responded that a pregnancy in the eighth or ninth week does not automatically qualify a patient for the emergency care to which everybody living in Norway, legally or illegally, has a right.

However, the board also pointed out that all women living in Norway have the right to terminate their pregnancy before the twelfth week.

This, the board said, meant the hospital should have applied a rule that states: “The patient has the right to treatment if an evaluation shows that treatment should be provided within three weeks.”

Oslo University Hospital said it regretted the incident and had changed its procedures.

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HEALTH

Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

As many as 116,000 people are waiting to be given a "fastlege", or GP, in Norway. So, why are residents having to wait to be assigned a doctor?

More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork.
More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

A recent quarterly report from the Norwegian Directorate of Health has revealed that 116,000 people in Norway are on the waiting list to be given a GP

Furthermore, the number of those without a doctor has grown in recent years, with those in rural and northern parts of the country more likely to be left waiting for a GP. 

The current GP scheme in Norway allows everyone to choose their own doctor, who acts as the patients’ main point of contact with the health service. Your GP is also responsible for your primary medical needs, and you are allowed to change your doctor twice a year. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Doctors in Norway have warned that a lack of funding and staff is threatening the GP system. 

“The GP scheme is on the verge of collapsing because there are too few doctors,” Bernand Holthe, a GP on the board of the Nordland Medical Association and a member of GP’s association for the area, told public broadcaster NRK

He says that reform in 2012 to the GP system has left doctors with too much work with not enough resources at their disposal. 

“After the collaboration reform in 2012, the GP scheme has been given too many tasks without receiving a corresponding amount of resources,” Holthe said. 

The government has pledged around 450 million in funding for GPs in its state budget for 2022, which Holthe argues isn’t enough to recruit the number of GPs necessary. 

Nils Kristian Klev and Marte Kvittum Tangen who represent the country’s 5,000 or so GPs also said they were disappointed with the level of funding allocated for doctors in the national budget. 

“The Labor Party was clear before the election that they would increase the basic funding in the GP scheme. This is by far the most important measure to ensure stability and recruitment and it is urgent,” the pair told Norwegian newswire NTB.

Patients have been left frustrated, and in a recent survey on healthcare in the country, one reader of The Local expressed their frustration at not having a GP. 

“I moved from Olso to Tromso, and I’m currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no places for a doctor? Everyone has a right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø said in the survey. 

Another reader described the fastlege system as “horrible”. 

Key vocabulary

Fastlege– GP 

Legevakt– Emergency room

Sykehus– Hospital 

Helseforsikring– Health insurance

Legekontor- Doctors office

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