Læknavaktin clinic, responsible for providing after-hours medical care in the Reykjavík capital area, will shorten its opening time by 1.5 hours starting September 1, Fréttablaðið reports. Stefán Ari Guðmundsson, Læknavaktin’s CEO, says a shortage of staff is the reason the clinic will now close at 10:00 PM instead of 11:30 PM. He does not expect the change to impact quality of services.
The decision to shorten the opening hours was made in consultation with the Ministry of Health, the National Hospital, and capital area health clinics, according to Stefán, and the change is here to stay. He believes it will in fact shorten wait times at Læknavaktin.
“We will be able to staff it better because we are closing earlier, those are basically my expectations,” Stefán stated. He also believes the change will not greatly impact the National Hospital’s emergency ward, as home care services will continue to be available between 10:00 PM and 11:30 PM. People will be able to call the 1770 emergency line, where a nurse will determine whether home care services are necessary.
While Læknavaktin was previously open until 11:30 PM, new patients were registered until that time, meaning that staff would in fact finish their shifts as late at 1:00 AM by the time all patients were attended to. Stefán points out that much of Læknavaktin’s staff work at health clinics during the day, where they start their shifts as early as 8:00 AM.
A review of the patients that came to Læknavaktin between 10:00 PM And 11:30 PM showed that an average of 17-18 patients came to the clinic during that window, “many cases that maybe have no business at this kind of service,” Stefán stated. He believes Læknavaktin will continue to meet the demand for its services, despite shorter operating hours.
24-hour phone line partially transferred to health clinics
In addition to providing clinical services, Læknavaktin operates a 24-hour phone line  where those seeking medical advice can speak to a nurse. Last June it was announced that Læknavaktin would lay off all nurses working the phone line and the service would be transferred to capital area health clinic receptionists. That decision has been partially reversed: starting tomorrow, capital area health clinics will answer the phone line on weekdays between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM, but Læknavaktin nurses will answer calls outside those hours.