Göran Hägglund. Photo: Hanna Teleman
In September last year, the government announced that counties that give at least eighty percent of the patient on the waiting list an operation within three months will get extra money from the state.
According to new statistics presented in the Swedish public service radio (SR) today, sixteen of the twenty-one counties have reached that goal. One of the successful measures is to have operations on Saturdays. This has lead to a halving of the number of patients who have to wait longer than three months on their operation.
The system has been criticized for giving money to counties that have already cut the waiting lists and not to those regions were there are still problems. Sven Nilsson at the county of Dalarna said to SR last year when the system was introduced:
-In one way one can say that the system takes money from the weak and gives to the strong.
The government and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions defend the system and say that it is not as simple as if the waiting lists were longer in poorer regions, it is also a matter of attitude and organization.
Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Göran Hägglund, is happy with the new statistics and claims it shows that the system works.
The sometimes long times of waiting before getting an operation has been a hot potato in the public debate, not least before the European election. One of the most discussed topics was whether patients shall have the right to go to another EU-country for surgery if they can not get it Sweden within three months and get the cost automatically covered afterwards by the state or if the Public Social Insurance Agency should have to give clearance first.