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Sweden's hospitals struggle to solve summer nurse shortage

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Sweden's hospitals struggle to solve summer nurse shortage
File photo of a Swedish nurse checking blood pressure. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
08:52 CEST+02:00
17 of Sweden's 21 county councils and regions are struggling to recruit enough nurses for the summer period, with hospital staff numbers set to be strained.

Several regions have tried to solve the problem by offering nurses compensation for moving their summer vacation, SVT reports, but the level of compensation offered varies significantly.

In Västerbotten for example a nurse can receive between 12,000 ($1,350) and 15,000 ($1,690) kronor per week, but in other regions like Örebro no compensation is offered.

"We had that solution in the past and the experience from that time is that you end up stretching the vacation period into a large part of the autumn. That means that services are at a reduced capacity for a very long time," Örebro councillor Karin Sundin, who is responsible for healthcare and hospitals in the region, told SVT.

And unions are not convinced that offering compensation to move vacation time is an adequate solution.

"We want our members to get the leave and holidays they have the right to in order to be capable of providing the healthcare required. We don't see anything positive in compensation for moving vacation time, but rather, employers that are desperate for solutions and not good staffing policy," Swedish Association of Health Professionals spokesperson Jani Stjernström said.

The summer months are a challenge for the Swedish healthcare system each year as staff take vacation but personnel numbers are not adequate enough to cover them. The often means the headache of competing to find temporary workers for the period.

In April the Swedish government announced that it would allocate an extra 500 million kronor ($55.5 million) to boost staff numbers at hospitals.

READ ALSO: Funding boost won't save Swedish maternity ward which inspired 'car birth' course

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