Healthcare matters

The healthcare system is the mainstay in society. Good healthcare services improve people’s living conditions and safety. In addition to this, good health of the people is beneficial for the national economy. The government is to run healthcare services with the taxpayers’ money. The system must be efficient and ensure everyone equal access to first-class service at the appropriate service level, irrespective of economic status. A prerequisite for this is that the number of staff is in accordance with the need for healthcare services and the requirement for the services, as well as a good and safe working environment.

Shortage of funds to many important healthcare facilities has resulted in short-staffing, significant pressure on employees and increased risk of burnout. Important services have been cut, waiting lists are longer and private companies have taken over part of the services. Shortage of appropriate service resources for the elderly also creates problems for the healthcare system, as it is not possible to discharge patients from hospitals if there is shortage of nursing wards.

BSRB demands that budget allocations to the healthcare system be in accordance with the need for services and that public bodies are ensured sufficient fundings to meet wage increases of staff agreed upon in the collective wage agreement.

BSRB wholly discourages deregulation of the healthcare services and fee collection based on profit viewpoints. Private enterprise reduces the efficiency of the system, overview and co-ordination, increases the risk of over-treatment and impedes monitoring of quality and scope. Privatisation also increases the pressure on wage increases, staff reductions and employment terminations of staff with extensive experience and higher wages to increase profit of the operations, which is then paid to the owners at the expense of wage earners and the quality of service.

A study conducted by the Directorate of Health on health inequality in Iceland shows that although good health and well-being is generally improving in the country, health inequality is increasing in Iceland. Those who live in tight circumstances and are less educated are in worse health and living conditions than those with higher income and more education. This inequality has considerable impact on quality of life and life expectancy. BSRB demands that this development be addressed. Health inequality can only be eliminated with broad government actions. The most significant actions are the ones that ensure education and financial security. As for actions within the healthcare system, fee collection for various aspects of the healthcare services must be reviewed in order to further promote equal access. BSRB wants to prevent fee collection within the healthcare system more than what has already been done with payment participation systems for healthcare services and medication, as well as dental services for children, old-age pensioners and disability pensioners, including for children’s orthodontics.

Equal access to healthcare services by location and easy access to healthcare centres and geriatric services must be ensured for all. The government must take greater part in travel costs of people who do not have the same access to healthcare services as others due to their residency. It is imperative to substantially strengthen the remote healthcare services, access to specialist services in local communities, ambulance transport and ambulance flights and thus ensure that such services are always available in the rural areas.

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