Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir is calling for a proactive response to the lengthy patient waitlist at Vogur, Iceland’s government-sponsored detoxification clinic and hospital, RÚV reports. Vogur’s chief physician says this waitlist has never been longer, meaning that individuals who are seeking help with their addiction problems have increasingly long waits for treatment.
Svandís says the rationale for the waitlist must be better explained, as must the steps that a person has to take to get on said waitlists. “I think it’s very important that it’s clear what the waitlists are and what they stand for, such that the requirements for getting on the waitlist are common knowledge. That’s not the case right now and so we also need to look at that.”
The director of the National Center of Addiction Medicine (SÁÁ), which manages Vogur, has stated that it is the Health Minister herself who is responsible for taking action (or not) on long-term budget cuts at their facility.
One notable example revolves around the treatment of minors at Vogur. In April, SÁÁ announced that they would no longer be able to admit patients under 18 because it had become clear, they said, that minors should not be sharing facilities with adults who were in rehab. The decision was made in the wake of allegations that a 60-year-old patient at Vogur sexually assaulted a 16-year-old who was also in treatment there. However, Vogur has continued to treat minors while new age-specific protocols and facilities are established for these patients.
Svandís has said that the Ministry is still working on a solution but says that the working group is expected to deliver a plan no later than December 15th.