Reykjavík Preschool Staffing Shortage Leaves 90 Positions Unfilled

reykjavík leikskóli preschool

In the latest numbers from RÚV, around 90 positions need to be filled before Reykjavík preschools can be considered fully staffed. Approximately 500 children aged 12 months and older remain on waitlists in Reykjavík City alone.

Continue reading: Almost 700 Children Waitlisted for Reykjavík Preschools

Hjördís Rut Sigurjónsdóttir, Information Office for the Department of Education and Recreation at City of Reykjavík, has stated that filling the vacant positions has so far gone more smoothly than expected, with around 95% of full-time vacancies filled. Nevertheless, many children still remain on waitlists throughout the city, with 478 children 12 months and older and 48 children 18 months and older still waiting on placements.

Not limited to the capital region, all of Iceland is experiencing something of a preschool crisis at the moment. Due to recent population growth, however, the problem is most keenly felt in Reykjavík and surrounding settlements. Traditionally, municipalities have accepted children into the preschool system starting at 18 to 24 months. Recently, there has been a push in the City of Reykjavík to start accepting children already beginning at 12 months into the system, to bridge the gap between parental leave and the preschool system. While the 12 month target was a much-requested concession for working parents, the preschool system has had to cope with much higher numbers this year, leaving many children stuck on waitlists.

Continue reading: City Council Introduces Proposals to Address Preschool Crisis

In a statement to RÚV, Hjördís said: “Recruitment for the kindergartens is going beyond expectations and it is clear that the actions taken by the City of Reykjavík have yielded results, such as advertisements and a new application website.”

Despite the progress made, many parents feel that not enough is being done to address the problem, with some having to resort to private daycares or else reduce their rate of employment to care for their children.

This August, working parents staged a demonstration at Reykjavík City Hall, turning the building into a sit-in daycare. The protest was an attempt to force action from a City Hall that they saw as doing little to care for their children.

So far, Reykjavík City has pledged to expand capacity through construction of new preschools and expansion of existing facilities. However, critics say the expansion of facilities cannot address the fundamental staffing shortage and that deeper changes in the education and remuneration of preschool teachers must be made.

Long Waiting Lists for Most Elective Surgical Procedures

According to a newly-published report by the Directorate of Health, waiting lists for most elective surgical procedures are too long. Individuals electing for knee-replacement surgery, for example, must wait for 12 months on average. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on waiting lists.

Supervising healthcare in Iceland

Last month, the Directorate of Health published a report on the state of waiting lists at the National University Hospital. The report is based on data from the beginning of the year.

As noted in the introduction, the Directorate of Health is legally obligated to supervise the healthcare system in Iceland. In its fulfillment of this role, the Directorate calls for data on elective-surgery waiting lists at the National University Hospital of Iceland twice a year.

The Directorate of Health’s guidelines state that 80% of elective surgical operations should be scheduled within 90 days, RÚV reported. According to the report, however, this aim is met in only 4 out of the 18 types of surgical procedures. (The wait is acceptable with regards to cardiac valve replacements, coronary angioplasties, and prostate operations).

The majority of individuals on waiting lists, or around 80%, have waited too long for ablations (a procedure to treat atrial fibrillation), pupilloplasty, acid-reflux surgery, bariatric surgery, and knee-replacement surgery. The wait lists for most surgical categories has lengthened or stayed the same since the publication of the previous report.

A near twelve-month wait for knee-replacement surgery

Over 1,700 people are waiting for knee or hip replacement surgery, with the average wait for knee-replacement surgery at the National University Hospital being 49 weeks. The wait for pupilloplasty is also long, with approximately half of those 2,600 individuals who underwent the operation last year having waited for seven months.

As noted in the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on waiting lists. Special measures must be taken to increase the number of operations once the effects of the pandemic subside.

“Previous reports have indicated that a shortage of staff and hospital beds has had a negative impact on waiting lists at the National University Hospital. There are indications that this is still the case.”

As reported by Iceland Review last week, even with a new hospital to open in Reykjavík in 2026, the healthcare system is expected to be significantly short of hospital beds in 2040, i.e. if drastic measures aren’t taken.