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Emergency room
Photo: Golli. Staff in emergency attend to a patient.

New Response Team To Tackle Emergency Ward’s Issues

The Ministry of Health has founded a new response team for Emergency healthcare services on the advice of the Director of Health. The National Hospital’s Council of Specialists has issued a statement where they declared grave worries over staffing.

According to the Health Ministry’s notice, the Ministry, the Directorate of Health, Icelandic Health Insurance, the regional healthcare institutions, and the Capital Area’s Off-hour Medical Clinic have formed a response team on Emergency Healthcare services in Iceland.

The reason is the grave situation within the emergency services but the notice also states that the reasons for this situation is complicated, but dominating factors are lack of trained healthcare professionals and lack of resources for senior citizens, disabled people and other sensitive demographics.

Among the action plans are coordination of actions and tighter cooperation within healthcare institutions, increased support to at-home nursing in the capital area and increased services of the National Hospital’s emergency ward and larger facilities.

The response team also plans for the National Hospital to reinforce the operations of the Reykjanes peninsula, west Iceland, and South Iceland regional Healthcare institutions by assisting with test results. Processes within the National Hospital will be improved to shorten the time patients spend in the emergency ward and a part of that project is to review treatment procedures in senior care and increase other specialities’ services to patients in the emergency ward.

The notice was issued on the heels of the National Hospital’s Specialist Council expressing their grave worries over the hospital’s staffing issues. The council stated that almost all professions within the hospitals were understaffed and that had a negative impact on the hospital’s services and threatened patient and staff security. Authorities were challenged to support the National hospital to ensure better services.

The head of the National Hospital’s Emergency ward Már Kristjánsson welcomes the new response team and told Vísir that such extensive consultation between healthcare service providers is a novel approach. The situation at the Emergency ward remained serious, however, and the healthcare system as a whole needed extensive review before receiving increased funding.

According to Már, the root of the problem is a lack of planning. Too many people seek out the emergency ward for mild illnesses that can wait, while others are stuck in emergency wards and other wards who should be in rehabilitation or nursing homes. “The lack of organisation within the National hospital leads to people seeking service in the wrong part of the system and that we haven’t been able to get people to the right place,” Már told Vísir.

Improved organisation and management is one of the new response team’s main goals but increased funding for the hospital had also been discussed. Már states that improving the organisation is a priority. “I think we should maximise our output within the current system and then figure out what needs improving in regards to funding.”

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