Maha Nasser: Health care in Sweden: between a harmful delay in receiving care and an inability to solve the problem
The healthcare sector is one of the largest, most important and fastest growing sectors in the world. The growth and development of this field and the quality of service provided in it is a measure of the progress of countries. Sweden is ranked among the countries that provide health services with high quality and it spends a lot of money on health care. Health care also relies on the principles of early care and the dissemination of a culture of physical and psychological care for citizens and residents. However, the shortage of medical workers is a major problem in Sweden.
If you live in Sweden and suffer from pain or develop a health problem, you will have to wait a long time to find out why. Sometimes the disease may worsen and cause complications. Also, you should not get sick during the summer vacation, because most health centers are closed in the summer. When a person suffers from health disorders, and wants to book an appointment, he may have to wait for about a month, or maybe more. And some patients who need specialists may have to wait for a period of more than six months, and maybe more, until they can get an appointment, and they have to bear the pain during that period, in addition to the complications that may be caused by the long waiting period. Many areas in Sweden also witness overcrowding in hospitals during health and epidemiological crises, and during winter. This winter, many hospitals went into a state of emergency, many departments closed, and operations postponed. Some hospitals in some areas have also had to put patients in the corridors. In addition, many people who suffered from winter illnesses could not seek the necessary care due to overcrowding and had to treat themselves instead. Where it is difficult for hospitals to receive many patients, due to the influx of patients and the high rate of sick absenteeism among the medical staff. This situation may entail risks, especially for those with serious illnesses. There are already death cases that occur due to delay in receiving treatment, the latest of which is the death of a person suffering from blood poisoning who did not receive treatment until four hours later. There is long waiting time and unacceptable and sometimes harmful delays in providing health care services in Sweden. This is due to the fact that the health sector in Sweden suffers from a shortage of qualified medical staff, and due to a shortage of medical workers, there is a shortage of hospitals and health facilities as well. Despite the state's attempt to solve this shortage, there is still an urgent need for medical personnel. There are many reasons for the permanent shortage of cadres in the health sector, and one of the reasons may be that many students do not want to study medicine due to its difficulty and the length of the study period, so they choose easier fields. In addition, according to some students, the salaries of nurses and doctors in Sweden are fairly equal, and therefore some who wish to study medicine go to study nursing.
The lack of medical staff is not a problem of Sweden alone, but most countries suffer from it, but they solve this problem by importing qualified foreign staff. As for Sweden, there is something incomprehensible about the reasons for the shortage of doctors in a rich and developed country like Sweden, at a time when we find poor and less developed countries where there is no such shortage. This shortage of medical personnel comes at a time when many holders of medical degrees are unemployed, while others have experience in practicing medicine for many years. In a survey I conducted last summer about job opportunities for people coming to Sweden, I met several doctors who had more than 15 to 20 years of experience in the field of medicine but did not get a job. Some of them had to work as nurses after more than 25 years of experience in the field of medicine. When we asked them about the reason, they said that the reason is the strict laws in Sweden regarding amending and recognizing certificates. In addition to that, the difficulty of the curriculum that is being studied in order to modify the certificate. One of them said that the focus is on theoretical information more and not on the clinical and practical side of the doctor. Where it is difficult to answer theoretical information for a doctor who graduated twenty years ago, while a student in the first or second year in the Faculty of Medicine may answer them. In addition, the language constitutes a major obstacle for expatriates to Sweden in the event that they are required to study and take an exam in the Swedish language. This means that the test does not measure their professional skill and competence to the extent that it measures their language proficiency and their knowledge of theoretical information that they may not use in their professional life. In addition, the other solution adopted by most countries to solve the shortage of medical personnel is to import medical personnel from other countries. For example, most of the medical staff in some countries are from Russia, Korea, China and other countries. Even the poor and undeveloped countries are importing foreign labor to solve this shortage. However, Sweden is one of the countries that sets complex conditions for the employment of foreign cadres in the health sector. So why not build more hospitals and import medical personnel from other countries? It doesn't matter if the doctor or nurse doesn't speak Swedish, I think most Swedes have the ability to communicate in English, besides it is possible to provide some translators for those who can't speak English.
Perhaps Sweden was keen not to employ foreign workers in the health sector and to set complex conditions for that, out of concern for people's lives and in order to avoid medical errors. However, Sweden, with its keenness, did not prevent medical errors from occurring, because there are still fatal medical errors, and there are still people dying or their condition worsening due to long waiting periods. Being a country the size, wealth, and progress of Sweden, whose health sector suffers from this deficiency and shortcomings, is a disaster.