Weekly Highlight: 26.02.2008

Denmark: about healthcare…

OECD: Pay for medical care
20.02.2008

Public sector costs have increased so much that the OECD in a fresh report recommends user fees in healthcare.
If it were up to the OECD, Danes would have to start paying for medical care and the elderly would have to hire their own help to assist with household chores.
However, the watch-dog’s recommendations of user charges for medical care as a means of curbing sky-rocketing health care sector costs, have not met with positive reactions by the government.
‘If something is free, there will be an overuse of it,’ an OECD spokesperson said at the report presentation yesterday. ‘Introducing a user charge could help eliminate potential misuse.’
The assessment pointed at two factors, the first being that new and expensive treatments were in constant need as the population would continue getting older and secondly, there was a continual demand for shorter waiting times along with more individualised treatment.
According to the OECD report, this would entail an increase in healthcare expenses and in order to curb the rising costs on the state budget, the recommendation was to introduce a user charge for visits to the general practitioner, for example.
The report stated that in contrast to other Nordic countries, Danes frequented their GPs double as much as citizens in Norway, Sweden and Finland, other Scandinavian nations with free medical care.
Another suggestion was to limit state-financed elderly care so those with paid help of less than two hours would have to pay for their own cleaning help and other household duties.
‘I only have one thing to say about the OECD recommendation and that is, the government has no plans to deviate from the principle of free and equal access to the Danish healthcare system,’ Jakob Axel Nielsen, the health minister told Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the finance minister, concurred, stating that the suggestions of user fees did not ‘have a firm ground to stand on’. 
The government’s approach was rather to encourage healthcare personnel to work more. The report also addressed the fact that six out of ten nurses worked part-time and if they all worked an added two hours a week, there would no longer be a national shortage of nurses.

Finland:

Breakups More Common Among Cohabiting Couples
Published 25.02.2008, 12.07

Cohabiting partners tend to break up more often than married couples. Annually, cohabiting couples are two to three times more likely to call it quits than their married counterparts.
This is in spite of the fact that there are many times more married couples than cohabiting partners. Low education and income levels in particular can put common law unions at risk.
In Finland more than half a million people are cohabiting, while just about two million live as married couples. Some 30,000 common law relationships end in a break up annually, compared to just 13,000 each year for those who’ve taken vows.
Research Assistant at Helsinki University Elina Mäenpää says there are many types of cohabiting relationships.
“Some fall into the category of an intense kind of dating relationship, while others are more long-term, very a more permanent alternative to marriage,” she explained.
Cohabiting is quite often a prelude to marriage. Over a period of eight years, Mäenpää’s research showed that just under half of under-thirty year old couples living together ended up tying the knot. Of the rest, half of them split up, while the remaining couples continued in their cohabiting arrangements.
Forty percent of children in Finland are born to couples living in wedlock. Very often the birth of a child encourages cohabiting couples to take the next step into marriage, but increasingly, the birth of children does not influence the decision to get married.
In her doctoral thesis, Mäenpää writes that there are many reasons why cohabiting couples drift apart.
“For example, if the couple don?t have children together or the fewer children they have, the greater the risk of a break up. Low education and income levels, and particularly low incomes for men, increase the risk,” she added.
On the flip side of the coin, couples living together stand a better chance of having a long term relationship if they enjoy a high level of education, socio-economic status and income level. The researcher also found that the longer a couple has lived together, the less likely they are to go separate ways.

Parental Example a Factor

Leena Kartovaara, a special researcher with Statistics Finland, has found that divorce by the parents of couples living together or as man and wife, influences the susceptibility to divorce.
“Weak family ties appear in some way to be passed on. If children have lived through their own parents’ divorce, then they will most probably also go through a divorce as adults.”
Parents who divorce thus pass on a lasting life lesson to their children. Kartovaara says couples living in a common law relationships involving children are three times more likely to split up than similar couples whose parents stayed together.
The impact of divorce on couples’ choice of family structure can be clearly seen.
“Among couples with one partner whose parents lived together, there were about 17 percent common law relationships with children. In cases where one partner had parents who had broken up, the percentage cohabiting nearly doubled to 33 percent,” Kartovaara pointed out.

Netherlands: Dutchs are complaining too much sex stuffs?

Society over-sexualised, says new poll
Friday 22 February 2008

Some 70% of the Dutch think there is too much sex in society and women in particular would like to see a ‘new prudishness’ free newspaper DAG reports on Friday.
‘The outcome [of the poll] does not surprise me,’ sociologist Herman Vuijsje tells the paper. ‘People have thought this for some time but it was taboo to say so.’
It is not a question of becoming more prudish but becoming more sensible, he says.
Among the other findings: some 60% of women polled thought the culture minister should do something about sex-filled video clips on tv and 66% think politicians should interfere more in questions of sexual morality.
However, Sandy Wenderhold, editor of sex magazine Chick, tells DAG her company does particularly well in places where a lot of fundamentalist Christians live. And at the recent ideal home fair, her sex toy stand was over-run with curious female customers, she says.

Norway: about healthcare too…

Hospital emergency rooms in an emergency of their own
First published: 25 Feb 2008, 11:58

State health officials are sounding the sirens themselves over a state of emergency in Norwegian hospitals’ emergency rooms, where patients face lengthy delays, inexperienced doctors and often chaotic organization.
The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision (Helsetilsynet) reports that they found violations of state law and regulations at 19 of 27 emergency rooms that they monitored recently.
Only two emergency rooms (called akutt mottak in Norwegian) avoided any serious criticism from the state health regulators.
In some cases, the regulators claim, it was only the heroic efforts of staff on duty that saved lives.
Health authorities monitored care offered at 27 of Norway’s 54 emergency rooms. Patients all too often received inadequate care and treatment.
“We have uncovered a total picture that shows management deficiencies, which affects both the patients and staff,” said Lars E Hanssen, director of Helsetilsynet. “This is totally unacceptable.”
In one case, a patient suspected of suffering a stroke was kept waiting six hours and 10 minutes before being treated. In another case, a patient who drifted in and out of consciousness didn’t get treatment for nearly four hours.
All too often, reported the regulators, the emergency rooms are staffed by inexperienced doctors performing their residency requirements, and they often have to wait for back-up from staff doctors to confirm a diagnosis.
The regulators also found inadequate monitoring of patients who hadn’t received a diagnosis, and that there were no clear procedures to determine which patients should receive priority.
Hanssen is demanding that the state, which owns Norwegian hospitals, and hospital administrators “roll up their sleeves” and improve working conditions and procedures in the emergency rooms. “They’re operating with a level of risk that’s much too high,” he said. “They have to start caring about what’s happening in the emergency rooms.”

Sweden:  

Discrimination in Sweden’s judicial system
Published: 25 Feb 08 13:45 CET

A new report has shown that Sweden’s judicial system suffers from discrimination.
According to a study by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå), people with foreign backgrounds risk unfair treatment in Sweden’s courts.
“The essential judicial agencies are aware of the problem, but discrimination can be difficult to work against and correct. Highlighting and fighting discrimination in the judicial system is one of the most important confidence building measures to which judicial agencies can devote themselves,” said Jan Andersson , head of the Council for Crime Prevention.
The Council’s report shows that within the judicial system there are preconceived notions about certain minority groups which can affect the judicial process.
Other examples in the report show that those who are foreign-born are sometimes considered less trustworthy than ethnic Swedes.
According to the Council, methods for battling discrimination include a more wide-ranging recruitment process and raising the status attributed to interpreters.

2 Comments

  1. Ian Furst said,

    February 26, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Regarding pay for care — we have the same debate in Canada. No one disputes that copay will decrease usage, the debate is whether it curbs reasonable access or prevents abuse. Our government has been focusing on “taming the queue” or controlling wait times. I believe that improvmements in efficiency will help our wait time problem without requiring payment by those in need. http://www.waittimes.blogspot.com

  2. February 28, 2008 at 3:38 am

    Nice post once again.
    I gotta say I really enjoy reading your posts, keep up the good work!


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