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Norway Doctors’ Strike: Walkout Starts Monday

Norway doctor going on strike

Amid rising coronavirus cases in Norway, 23 doctors are to go on strike across five Norwegian cities from Monday. Here's what you need to know about the Norwegian doctors' strike.

Following disagreements about working hours, Norway's biggest trade union representing doctors is calling its members to strike.

The strike had been expected as last Thursday, the Ombudsman stated it was not possible for the parties to reach an agreement. Legeforeningen (the Norwegian Medical Association) did not accept the mediation result.

23 doctors to begin with, more could follow

Because of the present coronavirus situation, the walkout will begin with 23 doctors in five Norwegian cities: Bergen, Narvik, Stavanger, Tromsø and Trondheim. It is set to begin on Monday, 26 October.

“Norway is in the middle of a pandemic that has had major consequences for the health service. This first withdrawal largely protects the population and patients from the consequences of the strike. We are concerned with taking social responsibility, even during a strike,” says union president Marit Hermansen.

A hospital bed in a Norwegian healthcare facility
Photo: Elling Finnanger Snøfugl/St. Olavs hospital

Working hours at “unmanageable levels”

Many strikes in Norway revolve around pay. This disagreement within Norwegian healthcare is solely about working hours. According to a press release from the Norwegian Medical Association, doctors in smaller municipalities work an average of 37.7 hours emergency care per week. That could be in the form of on-call duty, home care, or other types of emergency care.

“A quarter of doctors have recorded more than 52.8 hours of emergency care a week. This is in addition to a normal working week as a GP. 1 in 10 doctors work a full 100 hours of emergency care or more per week,” stated the press release.

Hermansen said that working hours have steadily increased to unmanageable levels, and claims that the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) has rejected all proposals that would reduce the enormous workload.

Hermansen added that they want KS to sit down with the Norwegian Medical Association to make the necessary contract changes to ease the pressure.

An aerial photo of St Olav's Hospital in central Trondheim, Norway
St Olav's Hospital in Trondheim

The Medical Association's demand has been that doctors must give consent to work more than seven hours of emergency care per week, which corresponds to 28 hours of standby duty. These hours are in addition to the working week as a regular doctor.

Bus driver strike lasted almost two weeks

The recent bus driver strike over pay and conditions lasted almost weeks. Drivers in the Oslo region were first to park their buses, followed a week later by drivers in many other regions of Norway.

About the Norwegian Medical Association

From their website: “The main aims of Legeforeningen (the Norwegian Medical Association) are to secure the professional, social and financial interests of our members. We strive for high professional, scientific and academic standard in medical education, both at the universities and in the continuing medical education. As an important stakeholder, the Norwegian Medical Association takes an active part in the development of the health care system in Norway.”

Approximately 95% of the physicians in Norway are members. Persons with a medical degree and medical students are eligible for membership.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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