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HEALTH

HEALTH: How to register with a doctor in Norway 

If you're here for the long term, you will need to sign up for a GP or 'fastlege', who will be the main point of contact for your health needs. Here's what you need to know about the GP system. 

A doctor working on their computer.
This is what you should know about registering with a doctor. Pictured is a GP on a computer. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

The overwhelming majority in Norway are entitled to a general doctor, GP, or as it’s known in Norwegian, a fastlege

Broadly speaking, those living and working in Norway legally are automatically enrolled in the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme. Everyone who is a part of this scheme is entitled to healthcare services and a GP by extension

One thing to note is that to be entitled to a GP, you will need to have a national identity number rather than a D-number. If you are unsure whether you are entitled to a GP, you can call helsenorge’s helpline (47 23 32 70 00). 

You won’t automatically be assigned a GP, though, you will have to register yourself.

READ ALSO: Six essential words you need when speaking to a doctor in Norway

How to sign up 

To find a GP, you will need to head to Norway’s digital health portal, helsenorge, and log in. You will need an electronic ID such as Commfides, BankID or Buypass ID to sign in. 

Once signed up, you can select the county you are in and see a list of doctors in your local area. The list will have the doctor’s name, age and gender, and if a substitute is covering them. 

In addition to this, the list includes how many spots the doctor has left for patients. If the GP you want isn’t available, you can join a waiting list. 

Am I allowed to change my doctor? 

If it doesn’t go to plan with the doctor you selected, you are allowed to change your doctor twice a year. 

You are allowed to change your GP two times in one calendar year. You can also change your fastlege if your address in the national population register changes or the GP leaves the surgery or cuts their patient list. 

The change becomes effective from the first day of the following month. 

What else should I know? 

More and more residents have been left without a doctor or on a waiting list in recent years. 

The number of people without or waiting for a GP in March 2021 was 150,000, according to the latest annual report on the state of the fastlege system from the Norwegian Directorate of Health

An earlier report from the directorate has warned that a GP shortage could eventually lead to increased health inequality in Norway

Previous reports have said that the reason for the large number of people waiting for a GP was problems with recruiting more doctors. 

One piece of practical information you’ll need to be aware of is that when you change GPs, it is your responsibility to ensure your medical records are transferred to the new GP. You’ll need to contact your former GP surgery and ask them to forward your record to your new practice. 

And finally, it’s worth clearing up the misconception that healthcare in Norway is free. It isn’t. It’s actually covered by the National Insurance Scheme, with users paying small subsidies for healthcare. For example, a consultation with a GP costs 160 kroner

What do foreigners think of the GP system? 

The Local’s readers have previously shared their thoughts on the country’s healthcare system. Among the positives were competent GPs, excellent quality of treatment, and good quality service. 

Some said that finding a same-day appointment with their GP. 

However, this doesn’t apply to everyone’s experience, and the most frequent issues readers had were long waiting lists for appointments and being assigned a GP. 

READ MORE: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

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HEALTH

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”

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