Lack of Beds Worries Doctors, Patients

A lack of beds in Swedish hospitals continues to create problems for both health care workers and patients alike, a new report from the National Board of Health and Welfare maintains. Despite that seven thousand beds have disappeared over the last decade, the downward trend continues.

Klas Sjöberg, senior physician at Skåne University Hospital, tells Swedish Radio News that the hospital sometimes has to turn away patients seeking emergency care because of the absence of empty beds.

"It leads to a risk of inferior care and problems for relatives, and slower health care as well. It's not a good situation," he said.

At the same time as beds disappear, the population is becoming older and more in need of care. The problem is not a recent one, however; Sweden has often come out low on a scale of beds per thousand residents compared to other OECD countries.

But more beds mean more health care staff, which Sweden's county councils are hesitant to hire. The new survey from the National Board of Health and Welfare reveals, however, that the councils do recognize that more beds are needed within geriatric care and surgery.

"Our overall conclusion is that there is a lot that points to that there is a lack of beds in the Swedish health care system," Anders Eklund of the Board told Swedish Radio News. "It's a very important issue for us, because that lack of spots can lead to negative consequences for patient security and quality of care."

Klas Sjöberg of Skåne University Hospital is afraid that health care staff is starting to get used to the "untenable" situation.

"We have successively gotten accustomed to tighter frameworks and less space over the last few decades. It's concerning, because eventually you don't realize how bad it really is."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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