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Hospital Facing ‘Disaster’

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Hospital Facing ‘Disaster’

Landspítali National University Hospital

Landspítali National University Hospital. Photo: Sverrir H. Geirmundsson.

Landspítali Hospital Director Páll Matthíasson is convinced it would be disastrous for the hospital if the Icelandic government budget bill is passed, RÚV reports. The budget bill assumes a ISK 4 billion (USD 36 million, EUR 34 million) increase in funding for the hospital, while hospital officials have repeatedly called for an increase of ISK 12 billion (USD 109 million, EUR 101 million).

Páll stated yesterday that if the bill passes in its current form, numerous hospital employees will have to be laid off and service reduced in order to meet demands made in the bill. He explained that three out of the four billion will be used toward salary increases and price index adjustments.

“We were quite shocked to see this budget bill. We have spoken of a need of [a] ISK 12 billion [increase in funding] for next year to enable us to operate the hospital in a decent way and to invest in infrastructure, education, human resources and science, but even though we did nothing of the sort and only things that can’t wait at all, we’re still talking about a gap of ISK 5.3 billion (USD 48 million, EUR 45 million), which we must bridge, or almost 10 percent of the funds Landspítali is allocated. If that goes through as a demand [by the government] for streamlining, then it’s comparable to the worst situation we had following the banking collapse.”

Páll stated that hospital officials have been very clear in their communication with authorities regarding funding needs. On top of that, reports from parties outside the hospital have supported their argument and explained that Landspítali operates with much less funding than comparable hospitals in neighboring countries. He stressed that 90,000 Icelanders signed a petition demanding that funding for healthcare be prioritized and increased. Leading up to the parliamentary election in October, politicians of all parties, he mentioned, stressed the need to prioritize healthcare funding.

“That appealed to the nation. Therefore, this [bill] comes as a large surprise compared to all that [rhetoric]. And it’s clear that those who present this bill have not been listening,” Páll lamented.

There are over 5,000 employees at Landspítali, and more than 100,000 patients seek its services every year. There is, Páll stated, next to no room for streamlining. That could only be done by cutting service.

“If this budget bill becomes a reality, it simply means disaster,” Páll concluded. “It would mean mass layoffs, and politicians would have to decide what part of the essential services we offer would have to be cut.”

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