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Change in Hospital Structure Meets Strong Opposition

A key issue on the government's health policy agenda in Norway is determining the number of hospitals the country should have. Since the 1960s, many hospitals have been built around the country, often in small rural villages, in order to provide people in all parts of the country access to emergency care. During the last 10 years, however, the effectiveness and efficiency of this policy has been questioned by health authorities, with the debate currently under way in Western Norway.

After the national reorganization of hospital ownership and governing in 2002, several initiatives to reduce the number of hospitals were undertaken. In almost all of these cases, the initiatives are met with strong opposition from the affected populations. The three parties — Labour, Socialist, and Centre — in the coalition government disagree on the matter of hospital reduction. While the Labour Party views reduction favorably, the Socialist and Centre parties are strongly opposed.

The high number of hospitals and emergency units in Norway is considered a significant factor in health care spending. However, the empirical evidence regarding the quality of care between different hospitals in Norway is inconclusive.

Sources:, Dec 28, 2010, December 12, 2010

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