Icelandic healthcare system may be spared more painful cuts

Iceland’s Minister of Welfare has called for the healthcare system to be first in line to benefit from any potential easing in next year’s national budget. The minister has spent recent days visiting health centres and hospitals in northern Iceland.

RUV reports that healthcare providers in the north of the country have by no means been exempt from the major cutbacks which have rocked the system since 2008. During his visit, welfare minister Gudbjartur Hannesson has been speaking with healthcare workers, asking how they think the further proposed cutbacks should be dealt with to minimise their impact.

Healthcare managers all around Iceland have publicly stated that cuts to funding have cut into the core of the system and that more cuts would be seriously damaging. Hannesson says, however, that this is not universally true and that the situation is different at each individual department/hospital/clinic.

“No permanent damage has yet been done, luckily. And generally the institutions and their staff have worked in a fantastically professional manner. That is why we are very anxious to make sure we are not making cutbacks which will lead to services disappearing, if it is not simply inevitable,” Hanneson said.

He also added that state income and expenditure forecasts for next year indicate that it may be possible to ease off on some proposed cuts or cancel them altogether.

“Some of them I have wanted to see cancelled; we shall see how much wriggle room there will be,” the minister said.