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How long does it take to get a GP appointment in Norway?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 11 Jan, 2023 Updated Wed 11 Jan 2023 13:16 CEST
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Here's how long it takes you to get a doctor's appointment in Norway. Pictured is a pharmacist. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Norway has a GP system in place, which means the majority will have a regular doctor to help them with their medical needs. But how long does it take to get an appointment at the doctor's office?


Everyone enrolled in Norway's National Insurance Scheme, which is almost everybody living and working in Norway legally, is entitled to having a GP or regular doctor. 

These general doctors are called fastlege, and while you will automatically be enrolled in the National Insurance Scheme, you will need to register with a doctor yourself.

For more information on registering or switching doctors in Norway, click here

While Norway's GP system may sound functional and straightforward, it only works if you can access your doctor when needed. 


For many in Norway this is an issue, as due to doctor shortages, there are around 175,000 people in Norway without a doctor

However, how long does it take for those with a doctor to get an appointment? Well, patients in Norway have rights when it comes to waiting for an appointment. 

These rights are protected in law under the Patients Rights Act. For example, if you need immediate help, you are entitled to an appointment on the same day. If it is not urgent, patients are entitled to be seen by a doctor within five working days. 

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

How does this work in reality? 

While the targets of same-day treatment for urgent care and five days for non-urgent appointments sound ideal, getting a sit-down with a GP within this time frame may be difficult. 

In the latest satisfaction survey of the GP scheme in Norway by the Ministry of Health and Social Care, patients were only partially satisfied with waiting times. 

The satisfaction score for securing an emergency appointment on the same day was just 63 out of 100. The number of patients who had waiting times of more than two days for emergency appointments has also increased since 2018, according to the survey. 

The survey found that waiting times for regular appointments had also increased between 2022 and 2018. 

Issues with being able to secure an appointment have been ongoing for years, dating back to at least 2017. 

While the current government has committed money to improve Norway's GP scheme, these plans may take years to come to fruition. 

Additionally, how long you are required to wait for an appointment may depend on your location. 

GPs in Norway have patient lists. In rural and northern parts of the country, doctors can have up to 2,500 people on their patient lists. A single doctor being responsible for so many can make it harder to secure an appointment. 


The average number of patients doctors have on their list is around 1,120 people. However, this is according to data from a few years ago- so the average may now be higher or lower. 

With so many patients on a single doctor's list, GP surgeries must prioritise based on one's healthcare needs. Unfortunately, this means you cannot expect a first come, first serve approach to securing an appointment. 

Other alternatives 

If you have trouble securing an appointment with your current doctor, then you can switch GPs twice a year. 

Switching to a doctor with a shorter patient list may mean quicker appointments. If your healthcare needs are really urgent, then all municipalities in Norway offer an out-of-hours medical service. To speak to your local out-of-hours medical service, call 116 117. 

Norway's public health authority, helsenorge, says that high fever – particularly in children, moderate breathing issues, acute illness or severe deterioration, unresponsive and exhausted children and adults, serious mental illness, suspected pregnancy complications, cuts and injuries requiring stitches and fractures are all reasons to use the out of hours service. 

If someone is in a serious life-threatening condition, you will need to call 113. Operators will assess the situation and send an ambulance to take you to the hospital if required. Norway's 113 services should only be used in emergencies. 

Going private is another option for those who need an appointment. There are several healthcare providers which offer GP appointments for between 600 and 1,100 kroner. 



Frazer Norwell 2023/01/11 13:16

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