Healthcare billions “unaccounted for”

Despite spending billions of kronor in an attempt to cut hospital waiting times, the Swedish government has failed to meet its commitment to increase access to healthcare.

In 2001 the then social minister Lars Engqvist promised “the biggest ever investment in health by the state”. The government stumped up 3.75 billion kronor and promised that by 2004 nobody would have to wait more than three months for treatment.

But on Friday the Swedish National Audit Office (SNAO) published a damning report in which it declared that “it is unclear what the money has been used for and whether waiting times have fallen”.

In the original government commitment, the funds were to have been distributed among the county councils, which are responsible for Sweden’s healthcare provision, according to specific performance criteria.

But the SNAO report said that the government’s failure to ensure that it had reliable information meant that the money was in fact more like a “public subsidy”. The records from the country’s county councils could not even be compiled into a single national report.

State auditor Eva Lindström said that before any more money was invested in improving access to healthcare the government must improve its reporting mechanisms.

“The public has a right to know how things stand regarding access and waiting times in the whole country,” she said.

Sources: Riksrevisionen, Dagens Nyheter

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