From Iceland — Austerity Kills Patients, Says Doctor As He Quits

Austerity Kills Patients, Says Doctor As He Quits

Published December 7, 2014

Says authorities intend to privatize -- Advises people to prepare for "nation-wide calamities"

Haukur Már Helgason
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Says authorities intend to privatize -- Advises people to prepare for "nation-wide calamities"

Doctor Vilhjálmur Ari Arason has resigned from his job at the Primary Health Care of the Capital Area, citing the “situation” of the healthcare system as the reason for his resignation. Along with his practice, Vilhjálmur Ari has blogged about medicine at Eyjan. In a post dated last week, he claims that a growing number of patients die due to unsatisfactory treatment. “These are facts that cannot be overlooked today, and are only occasionally reported in the news.”

Doctors employed at the country’s hospitals started strike actions in November. They have planned and announced further actions towards spring 2015. Vilhjálmur asserts that the visible lack of will within the government, to meet doctors’ demands, signals their plans to “privatize the public healthcare system”.

In the post, Vilhjálmur harshly criticizes the prioritization of constructing new hospital premises, estimated at 100 billion ISK (€ 600-700 million) rather than improving the healthcare system’s functioning. He says that everyone knows that new hospital premises are needed, but that the field faces more pressing concerns. “There are specialized fields, that we rely on during our most severe illnesses, where there are hardly any practitioners left,” he writes, adding that “the outlook is so dark that I abstain from publicizing it for now”.

Vilhjálmur said that he expects more general practitioners to resign. Referring to authorities, he said that “they have not listened to the grassroot and they have not listened to professional reasoning”. He concludes the post, saying that the nation had a choice and will now face the consequences: “I, for one, have started preparing for the worst and resigned. I hope everyone prepares as best they can, as we foresee nation-wide calamities.”

The current issue of the Reykjavík Grapevine print edition includes extensive coverage of the ongoing healthcare crisis, by Gabríel Benjammin, which will also be accessible online shortly.

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