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Why Norway's GP system has received a record number of complaints

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Why Norway's GP system has received a record number of complaints
For years, Norway has been facing a significant shortage of general practitioners (GPs). Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Norway's GP system has been under a lot of strain in recent years, to the point that the Ministry of Health has characterised the situation as a "crisis." New figures show that a record number of complaints aimed at the GP scheme were received in 2022.

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Norway has been experiencing a severe lack of GPs for years, and last year, Minister of Health Ingvild Kjerkol admitted that the crisis was "very real," adding that the government would focus on the issue in the 2023 budget.

 Around 235,000 people in Norway lack a GP. The figures reported by Norwegian TV2 were based on a survey carried out by the Norwegian GP association, which collected responses from more than 75 percent of general practitioners in the country. Previous official figures from the Norwegian Directorate of Health estimated a much lower number, around 175,000.

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Record number of complaints

Now, it seems that the capacity crisis is also affecting the overall GP service level – which includes aspects such as availability and overall service satisfaction.

According to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, in 2022, a total of 3,329 complaints were received about the GP scheme in Norway, which constitutes a new record.

The newspaper notes that the number of complaints has increased by 44 percent in four years and that they mostly regard inadequate follow-up, lack of availability, and dissatisfaction regarding treatment measures, medication, diagnosis, and referral.

What is the government doing?

The current government has been vocal about the problem since it came into power in 2021, and it has set forward multiple measures to address the issue.

Commenting on the new record in the number of complaints aimed at the GP scheme, Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said she was concerned about patients who are vulnerable, who have complex health problems, and who need regular follow-ups by their GPs.

"That is why the GP scheme is our top priority in the 2023 budget. With this year's budget, the GP scheme has been strengthened by almost 1 billion kroner. The measures will take effect from 2024," she said.

A previous survey conducted by The Local found that while foreign residents in Norway generally had a positive view of the healthcare system, they identified difficulty securing appointments and being assigned a general practitioner as major concerns.

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