Some patients have complained about delays of up to four days for doctors to return their calls. Gunnar Ingi Gunnarsson, director of the health center in the Reykjavík suburb of Árbær, said the system will collapse if nothing is done.
Þorstein Freyr Eggertsson had run out of medication and wanted to speak to a doctor on Monday. He called during the advertised telephone hours from 8-9 am on Monday morning but was told that all the telephone appointments for that day had been booked, ruv.is reports.
He called again on Tuesday but was told that there were no doctors available to take telephone appointments that day. The same thing happened on Wednesday and it wasn’t until yesterday that he managed to get in touch with a doctor and get his medicine.
According to Gunnar, in recent years several doctors have stopped working at the clinic, mostly because they reached retirement age, and it has been difficult to replace them. There are currently five doctors working at the Árbær health care center.
It has been increasingly difficult to serve the 15,000 individuals registered at the health care clinic, Gunnar said.
Roughly 13,000 people seek medical assistance at the emergency department at the Landspítali National University Hospital in Reykjavík each year when they would prefer to visit their local health care center. The health care centers in the capital area are not able to manage the numbers without additional staff, Gunnar added.
Cuts of around ISK 100 million (USD 878,000, EUR 640,000) will be made to health care this year. “I think that doctors will leave if it does not change in the near future,” Gunnar said.