Social Democrat health plan “rehashed”

Psychiatry should get more money and local health centres should become more effective, Social Democratic health minister Ylva Johansson said as she launched a healthcare package on Monday - but opposition parties accused the government of just rehashing old ideas.

Johansson said that all patients should be able to book appointments immediately.

“Today’s problem with accessibility to healthcare is often the result of an ineffective organizaion,” said leading Stockholm Social Democrat Ingela Nylund-Watz who presented the programme together with health minister Ylva Johansson.

The Social Democrats want to increase by 100 the number of places on medicine courses between now and 2008.

The party also said it would spend an extra 800 million kronor on psychiatric services and an extra 250 million on child and youth psychiatry in 2007 and 2008.

The Healthcare Guarantee programme, under which the healthcare system is expected to meet a number of specific measures relating to accessibility and waiting times, will be extended to psychiatric patients.

“A national joint medical records system will also become reality during the next parliament,” said Johansson.

But the opposition parties were scathing. The Moderates’ social policy spokeswoman Cristina Husmark Pehrsson said that the government had already announced the same measures twice, once in the spring budget, and again in the Social Democrat manifesto.

“How many times can you announce something,” asked Husmark Pehrsson.

She added that the Alliance had already presented “much greater rises” in spending on cild and youth psychiatry, as well as plans for a stronger healthcare guarantee.

“Ylva Johansson’s announcement is a sign of desperation. Lacking their own concrete proposals, the Social Democrats take the Alliance for Sweden’s and the Moderates’ proposals and present them as their own.”