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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Swedish future for the NHS
Danderyd Hospital
Danderyd Hospital offers state-of-the-art facilities

Come here to Stockholm and you'll get a pretty good idea of what the future of the NHS might look like.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have praised the way they run hospitals in this city.

Four have been turned into corporations still publically owned but given far greater freedom to run their own affairs.


The politicians are not involved in the daily running of this very complex mechanism and that's a major difference

Dr Carola Lemne
Nurse Marlin Sidebobelin works at the brand new maternity unit at Danderyd Hospital.

It is a joint venture between this not-for-profit corporation hospital and a private company.

It looks more like a hotel - but the service it provides is limited.

No complications

Only those women who are not expected to develop complications are treated here.

And, as new mother Madeleine Sparre told me, it is quite difficult to get in.

"You have to send in the papers showing that the mother is fine and the birth is expected to be too.

"For us there was no problem, but I think that we sent in the papers well in advance so we were lucky to get a place here."

The hospital's chief executive Dr Carola Lemne says this kind of project is only possible because of the freedom she's been given.

Services are purchased by local authority run groups led by politicians - but that is where the outside political influence stops.

"In my board there are only professional manager types - there are no politicians.

"The politicians are not involved in the daily running of this very complex mechanism and that's a major difference."

Foundation theory

Foundation Hospitals - Labour's big idea for the next stage of NHS reform - are loosely based on this corporation model.


The hospital is very anxious to give a good service

Dr Cecilia Larson
Critics in the UK fear that hospitals which become companies - even publicly owned companies - will be obsessed with finance - and neglect patient care as a result.

But at the GP surgery nearest to Danderyd hospital Dr Cecilia Larson says that is not the case.

"What I have noticed is that the hospital is very anxious to give a good service and are very alert to have our help.

"Is there a feeling that they need your business? Yes, I think they do, then they get more money from it."

Nurses at this hospital aren't paid a lot more than those at others in the city, but surveys have shown they think their working conditions are better.

While in Britain the nursing unions have criticised plans for foundation hospitals here the body which represents nurses is enthusiastic.

Nurse leader Eva Fernvall believes that a greater diversity of care-givers will eventually lead to better working conditions for nurses.

She believes that as long as health care is publicly financed, it does not matter whether the providers themselves are public hospitals or companies.

The government has still not finalised its plans for Foundation hospitals.

And in Sweden it's still early days for its version. Those who run the corporation hospitals, and those who work in them seem to like them - but whether that says more about how bad the public hospitals are managed here is harder to judge.

See also:

02 Oct 02 | Health
01 Oct 02 | Health
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