On Tuesday, the University Hospital of Umeå told 72-year-old Solbritt Björkstrand that her original operation for pancreatic cancer had been cancelled just a day before it was due to take place. The reason given by a doctor was an indefinite lack of space at the hospital.
“We asked if they were sending mum home to die, and we got the answer ‘yes, unfortunately’,” Björkstrand’s daughter Annelie Hålén told SVT Västernorrland.
But after grabbing headlines in Swedish media, the hospital called Björkstrand on Wednesday to say that there had been a change of plan and the operation could be carried out next week.
“They called a couple of hours ago and now all of a sudden she will be taken in next Tuesday and operated on Wednesday,” Hålén explained.
According to the hospital’s director of operations Malin Sund, a lack of space means that some planned surgeries must be dropped, with Björkstrand’s case not the only instance of a cancelled operation.
“The beds are completely occupied by emergency patients,” Sund told local newspaper Sundsvalls Tidning.
Overcrowding at Swedish hospitals has been a contentious issue for a number of years. In July 2016 a woman lost her unborn child after she was sent home by a clinic in southern Sweden due to a lack of space.
In 2014 meanwhile a Swedish man had to help his fiancée give birth in the back of a taxi after they were turned away by a midwife who said there were no beds available for them in all of Stockholm.