Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix
Twelve auhorities would be dismantled

Inquiry proposes 4 new health and medical care agencies

Twelve agencies working in the fields of health and medical care, including the National Board of Health and Welfare, the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control and the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, should be closed and replaced with four new authorities, according to Stefan Carlsson, who led an inquiry on Sweden's health and medical care systems.

He presented a proposal Tuesday that aims to meet the demands of an aging population. The state must have a more clear and efficient role in health and medical care, he said.

"The overriding problem within the health and medical care system is that we in the future must get more out of each tax dollar if we are going to be able to afford the care we have today. That is the biggest problem for the future," Carlsson told Swedish Radio News.

According to the proposal the 12 existing agencies should be replaced by a "knowledge authority", a "supervisory authority" an "infrastructure authority" and a "welfare authority".

Today national coordination among municipalities and county councils develops largely through voluntary cooperation. Sweden has a hard time holding together the health and medical care chain, and patients often fall between the cracks, said Carlsson.

Today each agency works separately, without the state taking a grip of the entirety and working together, said Carlsson.

"The structure has been built up gradually. When a need has been identified, a new authority has been established. To put it bluntly, no one has been looking at how it works as a whole," he said.

The biggest savings with the proposal, said Carlsson, is that the state will be able to support the health and medical care more efficiently. He thinks that transforming the authorities will amount to a 20 percent cost savings compared with today's 12 agencies.

The transformation shouldn't take more than a year and a half, said Carlsson.

"My hope is that four new agencies will be up and running by January 1, 2014. I think they should be established all at once to make it work as well as possible," said Carlsson.

Asked if it isn't the health and medical care policy that needs to change, not the structures, Carlsson, answered, "Yes, this is a means for the policy to become better and more efficient. Of course, the structure needs to be filled with concrete contents, and that is a policy issue."

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