New Director of National Hospital System Outlines Strategy

landspitali national university hospital iceland

The National University Hospital of Iceland recently had a new board of directors nominated by Alþingi.

Björn Zoëga, orthopaedic surgeon and current director of the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, has been selected as the chairman of the board.

In a statement, Björn said: “I am very grateful for the trust that has been shown to me with this appointment. I care about the interests of the Icelandic healthcare system and I am convinced that my experience will be useful in the projects that lie ahead. Such an arrangement is important, not only in terms of operations but in terms of the interests of patients, staff and society. I am convinced that it will be for the best of the country.”

Other appointments to the National Hospital’s board include:

  • Gunnar Einarsson, former mayor of Garðabær and doctor of management and education.
  • Höskuldur H. Ólafsson, serving as consultant and business analyst.
  • Ingileif Jónsdóttir, Head of Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases at Icelandic Genetics and Professor of Immunology at the University of Iceland.
  • Sólrún Kristjánsdóttir, CEO of Veitur and managing director.

In a recent interview with Morgunblaðið, Björn outlined his strategy for the National Hospital system.

Björn states that he hopes to simplify the organizational structure of the hospital system. Specifically, he highlights as a problem the excess of employees in the hospital system not directly involved with patient care. In the last few years, he says, the amount of middle management has grown much more than those on the frontlines of patient care.

By simplifying the organizational structure and reorganizing the middle management, Björn hopes to bring Iceland’s National Hospital system in line with other modern hospitals.


Record Numbers of Pink Salmon Caught

humpback salmon iceland

Iceland’s Marine Research Institute has issued a report on salmon and trout catches in 2021. 339 pink salmon were reported, an all-time record.

Pink salmon, also called humpback salmon for the prominent bump males develop during their spawn migration, is native to the Pacific ocean and is considered an invasive species in Iceland.

Some 323 pink salmon were caught by anglers, and 16 were caught in nets.

In total, 36,461 salmon catches were registered last year, with 53.7% of them released and 46.3% of them landed. The total catch is recorded as 46,832kg.

In the second half of the 20th century, the fish was stocked in Russian streams. After this introduction, the pink salmon has made its way around the arctic region to the North Atlantic, and the species has been recorded not just in Iceland, but also throughout the UK and Ireland as an invasive species. Environmentalists are concerned that the fish may disrupt native habits and compete with other species for food.

Smiðjan Brewery First to Sell Directly to Customers

icelandic beer

Smiðjan Brewery in Vík was the first to sell alcohol directly to customers when it officially got its license on Wednesday, July 13.

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, Sveinn Sigurðsson, one of the founders of Smiðjan, stated that it was important for the brewery to finally be able to sell directly. A majority of the customers that visit the brewery are foreign tourists and beer enthusiasts, and now they will be able to take beer home with them more easily.

At the moment, Smiðjan just has a restaurant and bar, but they are planning to significantly increase their production to meet the rising demand of direct sales.

Smiðjan has been offering brewery tours but expressed frustration that up until now, they were not allowed to sell alcohol directly to their customers after these tours. Smiðjan has also been frustrated that getting their product onto Vínbúðin shelves also takes several weeks, meaning that customers are not getting the freshest product possible.

Iceland has, up until now, had a state monopoly on alcohol. All alcohol must be purchased at Vínbúðin, the state alcohol distributor, except for some light beer which is available in grocery stores. Alþingi recently relaxed these restrictions, leading to a boom in online alcohol sales by private retailers.