Westfjords hospital to be saved?

On the day a new report claims that cutbacks to healthcare in Iceland’s remote Westfjords region will save the state little or nothing, the health minister of Iceland has indicated that he is likely willing to reduce the level of funding cuts to the region.

Gudbjartur Hannesson, the Icelandic Minister of Health says he is investigating whether it is necessary to make as big cuts to the Westfjords health budget as had been previously announced. He warns though, that any decision he makes will still need to be passed by parliament, RUV reports.

As previously reported on IceNews, residents of the Westfjords have been protesting the cutbacks angrily. Among the cutbacks proposed is a roughly 42 percent cut to funding for the regional hospital in Isafjordur. Doctors and managers at the hospital claim that would mean the effective closure of the hospital. They added that due to the geography and weather in the region and that the Westfjords has a fragile transport infrastructure, the cut backs could actually put lives at risk when it is not possible to move patients to Reykjavik.

Meanwhile, a new report commissioned by Westfjords locals and written by engineer Dora Hlin Gisladottir and economist Kristinn Hermannsson, claims that the state will save little or no money by cutting funding to the Isafjordur hospital.

The main reasons the cutbacks will have little effect, according to the report, are vastly increased patient transport costs, lower tax revenues and higher payments to Reykjavik’s Landspitali hospital for taking on the extra work. At best the state can hope to save ISK 28 million from its ISK 185 million cutback, the report claims.

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