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In 2003 the Norwegian Board of Health in the counties carried out supervision of some specialist health services for adults with psychological problems. Supervision was carried out in 39 district psychiatric centres and acute departments of psychiatry. The supervision involved assessment of availability of services, assessment of cooperation between the acute departments and the district psychiatric centres, and use of experience and other available information in quality improvement.

A prerequisite for a comprehensive service to patients is a clear distribution of tasks and well-functioning routines for cooperation between district psychiatric centres and acute departments. In as many as half of the institutions, internal cooperation within the specialist health services was found to be inadequate. This is serious, since this increases the risk that patients do not receive the treatment that they require, or else do not receive the right treatment. An individual patient plan shall contribute to coordination of services, but so far only a few institutions make such plans or contribute to them. In addition, it was found that the requirements regarding the right to prioritization and professional assessment were not adequately met. This increases the risk that the most seriously ill patients do not receive treatment.

The Norwegian Board of Health regards the situation as serious, when the mental health care sector seems to have inadequate knowledge and understanding of sections of the regulations. There is therefore a great need for better knowledge about current laws and regulations, in order to ensure that central patient rights are met and that everyone in the population receives adequate health services. In conclusion, the Norwegian Board of Health points out that it is the responsibility of leadership to ensure that the requirements that apply to specialist health services are met and followed up. The health authorities also have important responsibility for work related to the implementation of current regulations. They have responsibility for ensuring that health services are provided to the population in the region, and that such health services are provided in accordance with current legislation.