Skip to main content

In 2003 the Norwegian Board of Health in the counties carried out a nationwide supervision of 50 somatic out-patient clinics in the country’s five health authorities, in order to study whether patients’ rights, that are important when patients are referred to specialist health services, are met:

  • Do specialist health services ensure that patients receive the professional assessment that they have the right to receive?
  • How are the results of professional assessment followed up?
  • Do specialist health services ensure that patients who have a right to receive health services receive information about the type of health service that they can expect, about waiting lists and about free choice of hospital?

The supervision showed that there are several areas in which patients’ rights are not adequately met. Many somatic out-patient clinics have limited knowledge about the requirements for professional assessment, prioritization and follow-up of referrals, and for dealing with waiting lists and free choice of hospital. The supervision showed that there are many challenges to be met before everyone in the population has equal access to specialist health services. In the way prioritization is practised today, the requirements laid down by the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) regarding the patient groups that should be given priority, have not been adequately met.

Measures must be implemented to make the requirements known and to ensure that they are implemented in specialist health services, so that the aims of the Patients’ Rights Act can be achieved. Leadership in specialist health services must ensure that these requirements are taken into account in the system for organizing, carrying out and following up tasks.