The strike is over but a large backlog awaits

However, after the adoption of the intervention on Friday, Minister of Employment Peter Hummelgaard (S) was, according to his own statement, “not a happy man”.

– It is a defeat for everyone when a government finds itself forced to ask the Folketing to intervene in a labor dispute. But the Folketing does so from time to time if the conflict is hopeless, he says.

The Social Democrats, the Left, the Radicals, the Conservatives, the New Bourgeois and Liberal Alliance voted in favor of the intervention. The remaining support parties, SF and the Unity List, voted against together with the Danish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats.

Thus ends a nearly ten-week-long strike that began when the nurses on the one hand and the Danish Regions and the National Association of Local Authorities on the other hand ended up in the Conciliation Institution.

However, the nurses voted no thanks to the mediation sketch. Then the strike began. Now the sketch is dusted off again and elevated to law.

This does not mean that the health service is back in full force on Saturday.

For the strikers must take a lot of summer vacation. This means, together with covid-19, that the National Board of Health estimates that the backlog at the hospitals can only be expected to be resolved in about two years.

Jes Søgaard, professor of health economics at the University of Southern Denmark, believes that two years is a very pessimistic estimate based on the experiences from the significantly larger nurses’ strike in 2008.

– At that time, 18 months passed, even though the hump was bigger. Among other things, the National Board of Health does not take into account that it is possible to use the private hospitals, he says.

– So if we avoid major outbreaks of covid-19 and flu for the winter, and if the nurses are also willing to work overtime, then I think a year is a better bid than two.

But if, on the other hand, the nurses are so angry that they refuse to take overtime to get the hump to life, then according to Jes Søgaard it can take much more than two years to catch up with the situation again.

Claus Hovgaard, chairman of Sundhed Danmark, which represents the private hospitals, warns against believing that the private hospitals can take over many more operations.

– We have already increased our activities by 15-18 percent. It may well be that we can screw up a little more, but not many percent.

– We have a limited amount of staff, and there are no vacancies on the market. Then we have to do more, we have to ask our permanent staff to work more, and we can only do that for a period of time when we also have to take care of the staff, he says.

He recalls that private hospitals make up only about one percent of the total hospital system.

– So it would be a utopia to think that we alone can close the waiting lists, he says.

Source: The Nordic Page


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