Minister of Health Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson presented a plan for reorganizing the operations of health institutions in Iceland in a press conference yesterday, which includes reducing the number of institutions outside the capital region from 22 to six.
Projects will be relocated and it is expected that some managers will be made redundant, Morgunbladid reports.
The plan also includes that the operations of St. Jósefsspítali hospital in Hafnarfjördur, a neighboring town of Reykjavík, will be shut down and relocated to Keflavík. St. Jósefsspítali will then be changed to a nursing home.
Around 50 employees of the hospital protested against these reorganization measures yesterday by waiting for Thórdarson, wearing their scrubs, in the Hilton hotel in Reykjavík, where the minister was at a meeting.
Sveinn G. Einarsson, senior physician of the anesthesia department at St. Jósefsspítali, said people are hurt because these changes had been worked on in secrecy.
Powerful and efficient operating departments are being relocated, so “This is not rationalization, this is politics [where the interests of one are being prioritized above the interests of others],” Einarsson concluded.
It is unclear what impact the ministry’s measures will have on healthcare workers in the country. Thórdarson is planning to save around ISK 1.3 billion (USD 10 million, EUR 8 million) and ISK 750 million (USD 6 million, EUR 4 million) in Iceland’s southwestern corner alone, where St. Jósefsspítali is located.
Thórdarson told Morgunbladid that he understands completely that the employees of health institutions are concerned. Uncertainty is never good and therefore further changes to healthcare in Iceland will be announced to those involved in the coming days.
Representatives of a number of municipalities have criticized the plans for reorganizing the healthcare sector and requested meetings with the minister to discuss the matter, including Hafnarfjördur and the Westman Islands.
Ögmundur Jónasson, chairman of the Federation of State and Municipal Employees (BSRB), has also requested a meeting with Thórdarson. He is critical of the fact that the minister presented the changes to the healthcare sector in a press conference before discussing them with the respective employee unions.
Click here to read more about rationalization measures at Iceland’s healthcare sector.