Policy responses for Denmark - HSRM


Policy responses for Denmark

2.2 Workforce

Regarding measures to increase or maintain the availability of health workers, emergency child care facilities are provided. Students and retirees have been invited into the workforce (each of the five Danish regions have established a ‘job bank’ where health care students (medicine as well as nursing) and health care personnel currently not working in the regions or the municipalities are encouraged to sign up to offer their services, if the regions need to recruit more personnel to treat patients with COVID-19). Fast track re-training of health care professionals, particularly nurses, is in place, to work in ICUs and ventilator facilities. Private (pharmaceutical) firms allow medically trained staff to contribute in the health system.

Helplines have been manned by volunteers from the armed forces (the Home Guard) and The Danish Emergency Management Agency supervised by clinicians or medical students to maintain capacity at the hospitals. Clinical training of medicial students at hospitals has been suspended for most students, and the students have been encouraged to join the regions’ job banks. Planning for epidemics and other major emergencies are based on the expectation that hospitals and their personnel should work as usual. Therefore, basically, roles and responsibilities do not differ from daily standards. Furthermore, nurses from surgical departments have been redeployed to deal with COVID-19, as elective surgical capacity has been reduced by postponing non-critical, elective treatment.

By March 30, clinical training of medical students has been reestablished except for specific departments facing an extraordinary work burden due to the epidemic.

Several Danish regions are establishing psychosocial support functions for health workers (https://rn.dk/service/nyhedsliste-rn/nyhed?id=d4cdcc93-e8a0-4c24-9f59-6c4ebe80cfc0&utm_campaign=unspecified&utm_medium=email&utm_source=apsis).

In addition, the Danish Health Authority has produced a leaflet and a poster to the citizens on how to secure mental health  during the epidemic (March 25: https://www.sst.dk/da/Udgivelser/2020/Informationsmateriale_Gode-raad-om-mental-sundhed, https://www.sst.dk/da/Udgivelser/2020/Pjece_Mental-sundhed). On April 3, the Danish Health Authority published a leaflet aimed at mentally vulnerable citizens (https://www.sst.dk/da/Udgivelser/2020/Pjece_-Psykisk-saarbare-og-ny-coronavirus).

On April 1, the Danish Health Authority published a guideline on practicing specialists' role emphasizing that practicing specialists may perform follow ups for chronic patients to reduce the hospitals’ work load (https://www.sst.dk/da/Nyheder/2020/Praktiserende-speciallaeger-faar-nye-rolle-under-COVID-19-epidemien).

On April 2, a guideline from the Danish Health Authority recommends that individual employers and individual employees in certain groups (that is, aged 65 years or more, health workers with one or more specific chronic diseases, health workers with a compromised immune system, pregnant women and women up to two weeks after giving birth) should avoid working with patients with COVID-19. Specifically, the guideline recommends that pregnant women in the third trimester should work from home, because data from other countries indicates that pregnant women in the third trimester are at an increased risk of cesarean section. Unlike the old guideline, the revised guideline includes social workers as well (https://www.sst.dk/da/Nyheder/2020/Opdateret-retningslinje_-Hvordan-skal-medarbejdere-i-risikogrupper-haandteres).

April 22: The Ministry of Employment published a guideline clarifying that infection with COVID-19 may be recognized as a work-related injury, if the infection is due to a person's employment; that for certain groups of employees (in the health care sector) it will be very likely that an infection with COVID-19 is due to the patient's employment; and that the authorities must consider applications for this kind of work-related injury very quickly

All hospitalized patients are now tested for COVID-19 in order to protect healthcare professionals and other hospitalized patients from COVID-19 infection.