We sometimes hear the above statement when we carry out supervision of health and social services. This is a statement that we do not like. We know that the services have economic constraints that must be taken into account. But the statement reflects the attitude that the service has given up working to improve the quality of the services provided.

One of the main tasks of the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision is to ensure that health and social services are provided in accordance with statutory requirements. The requirements laid down in laws and regulations are central elements when health services are planned, provided and evaluated. Statutory requirements should be fulfilled within the given economic restraints. This presents considerable challenges. Good management involves not only keeping within the budget, but also producing the best results possible with the available resources.

Clients have the right to receive essential services that meet sound professional standards. The legislation demands that services shall be adapted to the individual needs of the client. Therefore, service providers cannot just say to clients: “this is how we do it here”, or “these are the limits we have set and that you have to accept”.

The way services are organized and the procedures that are laid down should be seen as providing the foundation for developing services that are adapted to individual needs.

Unfortunately, a common finding from supervision is the lack of adaptation of services to the needs of individual clients. We believe that this is an important area for service providers to work on, if people are to have faith in services in the next few years. The experiences of clients must be taken into account when developing services. The same applies to the experiences of employees. This is an important element in an internal control system.

An internal control system shall ensure that management of services is founded on assessment of health-related and social-related factors, and not just on economic and administrative considerations. In this respect, leaders, administrators and directors have a lot of work to do.

We believe that the results of supervision point out areas that need to be developed. We hope that you will find food for thought in the following pages.

“The legislation demands that services shall be adapted to the individual needs of the client.”