The wait time to see a doctor in North Iceland has gotten much longer than it was last year, RÚV reports, with wait times of up to six weeks to see a GP in Akureyri and three weeks in Húsavík. Jón Helgi Björnsson, the director of the Health Care Institution of North Iceland, said the situation is unacceptable, but also that there aren’t enough doctors on staff to meet demand.
“What we are struggling with is the difficulty of enlisting doctors to work here,” he remarked. “There are simply too few doctors for the clinics we have. It’s maybe a little easier in Akureyri, but generally speaking, it’s just really difficult to hire a doctor to work in the countryside.”
The main reason attributed to this is that health care clinics in the countryside are not able to compete with those in the capital area, where there’s more emphasis on urgent care centers. In such a model, doctors can get higher pay for shorter or fewer shifts.
“Obviously, I think people need to take a broad view on the issue,” said Jón Helgi. “Both in terms of working conditions and educational opportunities, as well as who is going into medicine. Are there people from the countryside? I think this is a very complex subject, but on the other hand, a subject that the public health authorities need to take very seriously.”