• Sweden's news in English

Summer staffing threatens patient safety

Karen Holst · 24 Jun 2011, 09:43

Published: 24 Jun 2011 09:43 GMT+02:00

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“It is scandalous. Every year they try to plan around the holidays. But employers don’t take it seriously. Then, they panic and offer bonuses if employees waive the vacation they desperately need,” said Sineva Ribeiro, president of Vårdförbundet, in a press release.

“Managers need to take responsibility, instead of tossing it back in the lap of employees,” she said.

The healthcare professionals organization conducted a nationwide survey of temporary hospital employees across 17 out of 21 affected departments.

Responses indicate that nine out of ten departments announce a shortage during the summer months.

Specialized nursing, such as mid-wives, radiographers and biomedical scientists, is hit the worst, claiming that the situation is ‘very serious’ and with a ‘very substantial reduction in staffing.’

As a result of the widespread shortage, hospitals are forced to seek alternative solutions to the summer staffing problem.

The survey demonstrated that the most commonly practiced defenses include an increase in overtime, various forms of bonuses, and an increased use of agency or temporary workers.

Yet, according to the survey, another popular solution is simply to close various hospital care units for the summer. About 50 percent of the Association’s local departments believe the closures are due to staffing shortages.

Story continues below…

Members of Vårdförbundet believe the serious shortcomings of summer staffing presents a very real threat to patient safety.

Nine out of 10 departments are in accord, while no departments believe the opposite. The remaining answered ‘do not know’ when asked.

Karen Holst (kholstmedia@gmail.com)

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Your comments about this article

10:43 June 24, 2011 by jacquelinee
Sweden needs to adopt a new Vacation system.

In other countres, employees get to pick their vacations according to their seniority. The employee who has been there the longest gets first pick, the one who has been there the least amount of time gets to pick last. The whole establishment can not have the entire month of July off. It is a fair alottment of vacation time.

They are alloted throughout the entire year. If you are a new employee it is quite possible your vacation will be in March, whereas a seior employee will have theirs in July. In this way, you will always have knowlegable trained staff available.

The idea of having an entire country running on a miniscule, untrained, skeletal crew is just totally ridiculous.
10:56 June 24, 2011 by voiceofreason
My wife a doctor but she is not allowed to come anywhere near the hospital until she has gone through SFI, Komvux and and Folk-Universitet. Only then can she take the qualifying exam and then go through 18-month intern-ship.

It is funny because I can bet my pension on it that she knows more medicine than a third of the doctors.
11:37 June 24, 2011 by jacquelinee
@voice of reason

I would bet mine too. I bet she would NOT diagnose melanoma as exema like a Swedish doctor at Varld Central did, like the idiot SWEDISH doctor I went to did. Thank God I insisted having it removed and tested.
12:04 June 24, 2011 by arsalan.ikram
thanks to moderate policies and thier voters
12:31 June 24, 2011 by Puffin

Thank god - I would not want a doctor who cannot communicate with the patients, other staff, or read the instructions for prescribing medicine

She may know a lot about medicine but what use is that if she cannot understand my symptoms?
14:09 June 24, 2011 by zooeden
Nothing new, this has been happening for more than 10 years, seems like the only place in which the state has no eyes is in healthcare, demoraphics have grown and medical staff has decreased or gone somewhere else! not a surprise with old institutionist Sweden!
14:12 June 24, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ arsalan.ikram

No.......thanks to poor education that the Swedish people are brainwashed into thinking is GREAT education. In Sweden, It is not about knowledge, or expertise, or even quality educational content. It is about having a paper "betyg" in your hand. Big flippin deal. I can print one myself online and then I too can be a doctor.

@ voice of reason

A REAL doctor will have the care, concern and knowledge to take the inititive to translate precisely what your symptoms are, and use their extensive medical expertise to not only prescribe the medication, but understand how it works, side effects etc.

My friend who, speaks english, was getting a serious operation and asked for an interpreter since she had a swedish doctor (non English speaking) and was concerned about any issues her less extensive grasp of the Swedish language, in it's totality, presented. Her boyfriend (who is 100% Swede in lineage)was able to come at the last minute. A Swedish interpreter had been assigned as well. One instance of the many issues she experienced, is when the doctor asked "Are you currently on any prescibed medication?" This is an important question since drug interaction can be deadly at times. The interpreter (a Swedish one) asked her "Did you take any medication today?" TOTALLY different question. Her boyfriend caught it. THANK GOD!¨

I would rather have a knowlegable, educated doctor that spoke martian look after me than a doughheaded Swedish quack with some worthless betyg hung on his wal, and diagnosing melanoma as exema, a personal experience of mine. Give me a deaf mute that knows his stuff anyday.
21:52 June 24, 2011 by Species125
Has anyone considered taking emergency first-aid training? The more educated we in the public are, the better the chance we have of saving one another.
06:03 June 25, 2011 by voiceofreason
Read my lips, "she is not allowed to come anywhere near the hospital ".

That means, she is not allowed to work as a paramedic, nurse, intern, assistant, whatever and mind you she speaks Swedish.

The point is that, there are many people who can augment the workforce but are not allowed to help in anyway.
16:33 June 25, 2011 by cogito
@Jacqueline #3. " I bet she would NOT diagnose melanoma as exema like a Swedish doctor at Varld Central did, like the idiot SWEDISH doctor..."

Right. A friend here was diagnosed with eczema. The Swedish doctors kept prescribing various expensive creams. Visiting the USA, she showed her "eczema" to a doc there, who immediately took a patch and had it sent to the lab.

Her melanoma and the surgery would have been far less extensive had she been diagnosed correctly in Sweden.

It's not a language problem. It's a competence problem.
23:49 June 25, 2011 by jacquelinee
@cogito #10

It's not a language problem. It's a competence problem.

EXACTLY! I have been prescibed a strong steroid cream for a skin lesion by a different SWEDISH Vard Central doctor without him even giving the lesion a glance let alone examining it. But, he was a wonderful doctor right? How do I know? Well, he has a betyg, so he MUST be great right? Like I said previously...

I would rather have a knowlegable, educated blue doctor that spoke martian look after me than a doughheaded Swedish quack, hiding his incompetance behind a waving betyg. Give me a deaf mute that knows his stuff anyday.
01:29 June 27, 2011 by soultraveler3
This is so right.

"My wife a doctor but she is not allowed to come anywhere near the hospital until she has gone through SFI, Komvux and and Folk-Universitet. Only then can she take the qualifying exam and then go through 18-month intern-ship."

My background is in pharmacy, I have 10 years experience and I'm in a very similar situation as your wife. This story is far too common. You read all the time about the shortage of healthcare professionals in Sweden but they make it so damned hard for educated immigrants to work here.

Most other countries allow you to study the local laws and procedures for a few months then you can attempt to pass a competency exam. If you pass that and pay the licensing fee, you're good to go.

The language issue can be worked with as well. In the states we have many doctors from other countries and they work out fine. People pick up languages quickly when they need to and Sweden already has an interpreter program in place.

They want people to have a svensk betyg because they're under the impression that Sweden's education is better than elsewhere. It's just not true.

Jacquelinee in comment #1 had a good idea as well. If Sweden would adopt a system based on seniority or first come, first serve it would make things a lot smoother. It's a little ridiculous that vital systems the country nearly shut down during summer.
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