Policy responses for Denmark - HSRM


Policy responses for Denmark

3.3 Maintaining essential services

April: Patients with COVID-19 are being treated at specific departments to reduce the risk of infection of other patients and health care personnel.

On May 29, the government and the Danish Regions agreed on a national plan for the reintroduction of patients’ rights (including the one month guarantees for access to diagnosis and to treatment, respectively): from July 1 2020, the regions must inform patients about their rights; from September 1 2020, all patients’ rights will be reintroduced for psychiatric patients, and by January 1 2021, all patients’ rights will be reintroduced for somatic patients

As part of the agreement between the national government and the Danish Regions on funding and tasks in 2021, the regions will utilize private clinics and hospitals to the same degree as before the epidemic to reduce waiting times, on the condition that the private health care sector does not pose a challenge for recruitment at public hospitals (https://fm.dk/media/18035/aftale-om-regionernes-oekonomi-for-2021.pdf).

On November 13 the Danish Health Authority published a report on clinical activity at hospitals (week no.30-38) and in general practice (week no.25-34), indicating that clinical activity has reached the level before the epidemic. The Danish Health Authority will put extra emphasis on following screening for breast cancer and referrals to fast track examination for cancer due to an unintended fall in activity. The Authority will also put special emphasis on mapping experiences with telemedicine during the epidemic (https://www.sst.dk/da/Nyheder/2020/Sundhedsvaesenet-er-naesten-tilbage-i-fulde-omdrejninger).

On December 18 the government and the Danish Regions agreed to extend the suspension of waiting time guarantees for somatic patients from January 1 2021 to March 1 2021 (https://sum.dk/Aktuelt/Nyheder/Coronavirus/2020/December/Faelles-PM.aspx).

On February 24 the Ministry for Health announced that the patient rights concerning a diagnosis within 30 days and right to treatment 30 days will be reinstated by March (https://sum.dk/nyheder/2021/februar/patientrettigheder-til-hurtig-udredning-og-behandling-bliver-genindfoert-1-marts). The government has clarified, that these patient rights may be suspended again, if the re-opening of the country by March 1 leads to a major increase in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 (https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/behandlingsgarantien-genindfoeres-sammen-med-genaabningen-det-haenger-simpelthen).   

Regarding any reconfiguration of services or rationing care that affects non-COVID-19 patients, all services have been maintained, but non-critical elective surgery procedures are postponed. The existing and extensive home care services continue. Specific information recommendations have been issued for homeless people, users and staff at care and support facilities for vulnerable groups (https://sim.dk/nyheder/nyhedsarkiv/2020/mar/plakater-og-pjecer-giver-raad-om-coronavirus-til-hjemloese-og-saerligt-udsatte/). No specific expansion initiatives have been reported to expand access to or otherwise support mental health services as a result of the outbreak.

On April 13, the national government, The Danish Regions, Local Government Denmark (the Danish municipalities’ organization) and the Danish Organization of General Practitioners agreed to increase planned and non-COVID-19 related activity in the health care sector to reduce the growth in waiting times for elective patients. The citizens have been encouraged to seek their GP to the same extent as before the COVID-19 epidemic. No further details are available on the specific content or consequences of the agreement. There is no specific statement or agreement on when the treatment guarantees are expected to be reintroduced (https://www.sum.dk/Aktuelt/Nyheder/Sundhedspolitik/2020/April/Regeringen-Danske-Regioner-KL-og-PLO-enige-om-mere-aktivitet-i-sundhedsvaesenet.aspx).

On June 10, the Danish Health Authority published a report on activity in the hospitals from January 6 to May 3 (https://www.sst.dk/da/Udgivelser/2020/COVID-19-Monitorering-af-aktivitet-i-sundhedsvaesenet). The statistics in the report illustrate how activity was reduced to prepare hospitals for a large number of patients with COVID-19 and how activity was increasing again at the end of the study period; statistics also illustrate an unintended fall in the number of patients referred with cancer symptoms. The authors found a fall in the number of patients referred to hospitals by their GP, which they attributed to a reduction in the number of visits to the GPs, improved hygiene in society generally, and reduced activity overall – resulting in less accidents. A revised report was published on July 6 (https://www.sst.dk/da/Udgivelser/2020/COVID-19-Monitorering-af-aktivitet-i-sundhedsvaesenet-Beskrivelse-af-udviklingen).