Iceland Hospital Prepares to Lose Nurses Skip to content

Iceland Hospital Prepares to Lose Nurses

If the nurses who have resigned at the Landspítali National University Hospital go ahead with their plans, the hospital’s operations must be reorganized. This might include decisions on what patients have to be sent abroad for surgery.

landspitali-hallgrimskirkja_domLandspítali (foreground). Photo: Dagbjört Oddný Matthíasdóttir/Iceland Review.

According to Fréttablaðið, the resignations of 260 nurses will take effect at the end of this month and 20 other nurses are set to leave the hospital one month later.

“If this will go on for a long time the healthcare service in Iceland will not be the same,” stated Landspítali director Björn Zoëga. Many of the nurses who have resigned hold very specialized positions.

Björn said that even though preparations for reorganizing the hospital’s operations have begun, he remains hopeful that the wage dispute can be resolved in time.

“Now our project is to make sure that the funding that we have received will be delivered to our employees in line with what has been discussed in the joint negotiation committee,” Björn added.

After regular meetings in the past weeks to find a solution to the wage dispute and renew the institutional contract with the nurses, the hospital announced a pay raise of ISK 25,000 (USD 198, EUR 146) per month on average.

The pay raise, which the hospital presented as its final offer, was made possible after increased funding from the state.

However, at a mass meeting on Monday, the vast majority of nurses in attendance stated that they considered the pay raise insufficient.

Therefore, the Nurses’ Union formally rejected the offer yesterday, announcing to the hospital’s negotiation committee that they did not want to renew the institutional contract on these terms.

Björn stated that the message the authorities have given for the past two weeks is very clear: the hospital will not receive any additional funding to resolve the wage dispute.

“Given the current situation I can’t imagine that we will receive any new funding, although we would naturally welcome it. We have often said that our staff is generally underpaid and [more funding] would give us a chance to correct [the salaries] as much as possible,” Björn concluded.

Not only nurses have resigned. Last week 40 x-ray technicians handed in their resignations and Morgunblaðið reported today that five physicians at Landspítali’s orthopedic surgery ward have resigned, leaving one resident and a six-year student.

No applications have been received for the positions that were advertised before Christmas. The two remaining physicians must therefore handle projects that would otherwise be divided between six employees.

The ward’s supervising physician Hjörtur Brynjólfsson stated people have stopped waiting for the situation to improve and young physicians are increasingly seeking employment overseas.

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