Seventh-day Adventist doc denied job over faith

Oslo University Hospital has received a reprimand from Norway’s anti-discrimination watchdog after it turned down a job applicant who said he didn’t believe in the theory of evolution.

The job seeker, a psychiatrist, reported the hospital to the anti-discrimination ombudsman after he received a rejection letter that seemed to cite his religious beliefs as grounds for not employing him, Christian newspaper Vårt Land reports.

 “We are quite far apart from one another in terms of worldview, and I don’t think it would really work,” the prospective employer wrote in the letter.

“My colleagues and I reacted strongly to the fact that they used that as a justification,” said the doctor, who asked not to be named.

“I opted to take the matter further in order to get confirmation from an independent body that this is not acceptable,” he told the newspaper.

In the course of the interview, the psychiatrist revealed that he was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The interviewer then asked him what he thought about the theory of evolution, which he said he didn’t accept as true.

In its ruling, the ombudsman said the hospital had discriminated against the applicant on the basis of his faith.  

The regulator acknowledged that the employer was within its rights to take into account the psychiatrist’s views on evolution. But, the ombudsman added, the hospital had still breached anti-discrimination laws since it did not have sufficient grounds to conclude that the psychiatrist was unsuitable for the job.

Oslo University Hospital conceded that the initial rejection e-mail was poorly formulated and said it would not contest the decision.

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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