The National University Hospital of Iceland is currently short 180 nurses and 120 individuals are on waiting lists to be placed in a nursing home, RÚV reports. Doctors have been warning of worsening conditions for years.
Andrea Margeirsdóttir spoke of her experience bringing a close relative to the emergency room on morning radio today. “I had to repeatedly ask to get pain killers, an IV, repeated things that should have been OK[…] After two days the room had gotten pretty messy, bloodstained and dirty floor. The trash hadn’t been emptied in two days.”
Andrea stresses that she is not blaming hospital staff for the conditions, but that the situation makes people fear for their loved ones who are in hospital. “When I was leaving my relative in the evening, I found it really difficult because of course there’s a priority list at the hospital and I felt like he wasn’t on the top of the list, although he was really weak and couldn’t do many things. I was just afraid to leave him,” she stated.
Guðlaug Rakel Guðjónsdóttir, director of the department for emergency, geriatrics, and rehabilitation services, confirms the situation is dire. “We have been pointing this out for many years that we are moving toward this situation. It comes from the aging population which we have spoken of often in society and with an increase in the number of tourists – that has a very big impact on the healthcare system,” she says. “For 17 years we have been discussing a new treatment centre on Hringbraut and people are still going back and forth about whether it’s needed or not. We have also repeatedly pointed out there is a shortage of staff.”
Guðlaug says the crisis does not have one easy solution. “It’s necessary to examine workplace organization and wage agreements, especially women’s. The ministry has been working on a comprehensive evaluation of what is lacking in services to the elderly and I greatly celebrate that,” she stated. “We have to work across wide areas to make things happen and we have to solve this problem collaboratively because this is a social project.”