Office of the Auditor-General issues criticism of mental health care in multiple Norwegian municipalities

Office of the Auditor GeneralPhoto: Vidar Ruud / NTB
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 Sharp criticism has been directed at the municipal health services in Norway in a report from the Auditor-General’s Office released on Thursday.

The Office of the Auditor-General says it is serious that there is a long waiting time for treatment and a lack of treatment options for young people with mental health and substance abuse problems in many municipalities, according to the report.

It is also serious that many outpatient clinics in mental health care do not have the framework conditions needed to provide good treatment. There is a lack of competence to detect substance abuse problems and treat the combination of mental health problems and substance abuse problems. In addition, not all patients are offered the treatment recommended by the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

Criticism

“Both adults and children received the best treatment in Health South-East,” the Office of the Auditor-General writes.

In some regions, patients had up to 20% more contact with the specialist health service than in other regions.

“Serious” is the second most serious term used by the Auditor General’s Office for criticism in its reports. In the investigation of mental health services, “serious” is used four times, while there is one aspect that is referred to as “highly objectionable.”

Recommends more support from the Ministry  

The highly objectionable fact is that none of the regional health trusts has managed to achieve the “golden rule” established in 2014: that mental health care must be given priority over somatics. The Office of the Auditor-General points out that the Ministry of Health and Care Services (HOD) has not followed up this goal well enough in the health trusts.

The Office of the Auditor General recommends that the Ministry consider how state authorities can support the municipalities in the development of mental health services, as the municipalities have been transferred a greater part of the responsibility in this area. The Ministry is also asked to follow up with the regional health authorities more thoroughly.

The opposition is dissatisfied

In his reply to the Office of the Auditor-General, Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie (H) writes that he takes the findings seriously and will consider how the recommendations can be followed up.

Health policy spokeswoman Ingvild Kjerkol of the Labor Party (AP) pointed out that Høie did not keep this promise.

Freddy André Øvstegård (SP) also reacted to the report.

“The shortcomings in mental health care are dramatic. In combination with very high pressure on the employees and expectations of discharge and rapid treatment, this shows a system where major measures must be implemented,” he said.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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