– I do not think the Prime Minister wants to share the figures that show how many operations and cancer screenings have been put on hold, because the figures are unpleasant, says Siv Jensen.
The FRP leader says she has repeatedly this autumn asked the government to get updated figures on waiting lists and health queues in hospitals – in the wake of the pandemic. No later than Question Time this week.
– I asked Erna again on Wednesday in the Storting. I did not receive an answer. I think that is strange, says Jensen.
On Saturday, the FRP will gather for a national meeting. Due to the corona pandemic, it is divided in different places around the country and bound together by video conferencing.
Jensen says the figures are clearly known to the government.
– The health trusts have a good overview of this. Of course they know the numbers. The Minister of Health and the Prime Minister always know what health queues and waiting lists are, and how they develop.
– Why should the Prime Minister want to keep this hidden?
– I do not know, but I think the Prime Minister and the government do not want to share the figures that show how many operations and cancer screenings have been put on hold, because the figures are unpleasant, Jensen says.
She says the FRP has been scouring the health budget for the past week, which last week was part of the government’s proposal for the state budget, without finding information about waiting lists and health queues.
Jensen: The Storting has no idea what the facts are
– We have no idea what the numbers look like. The only thing we know is that they are obviously greatly aggravated.
Jensen says the Cancer Society before the summer stated that there were 50,000 screening examinations that were postponed in the cancer area alone.
– The dark numbers are large, and it will take a long time to catch up with this lag. It will cost, but the Storting has no idea what the facts are. I mean it’s serious.
In March and April this year, there were 320,000 fewer patients treated in hospital compared with the same two months in 2019.
Expect a plan from the government soon
She emphasizes that she does not criticize the government for rigging the hospitals for the pandemic in March. She says there was broad agreement on the closure and an understanding that the health queues would grow because the hospitals had to re-prioritize.
– But today, when there are few people who receive treatment in the hospitals for the coronavirus and there is low occupancy in the intensive care units, you can speed up the planned operations and treatments and reduce the health queues.
Jensen says she and the Storting simply do not know if it will happen, because the government does not inform.
– We must have a plan to reduce the long health queue that has arisen. But then must know how long the queues are. How much will it cost? How long will this take? Will it take many years? We know nothing.
She says she expects the Government to present updated figures as soon as possible in order to catch up.
– This is a work that will affect the budgets for many years to come. This can not wait.
– Terribly difficult for many patients
She says many patients who have had operations and treatment postponed are put in a terribly difficult situation.
– It has all been about dealing with a pandemic, while patients with very serious diagnoses have been put on hold. This is simply not right.
She says she gets many heartbreaking stories from seriously ill patients who do not receive treatment.
– The last I heard was someone who had advanced ALS, who did not receive health care. There are many grotesque examples. It really upsets me.
She says that the FRP and the Conservatives in the Solberg government’s first period (2013–2017) decided to get updated and real figures on how many elderly people were waiting for a nursing home place.
Until then, there was no such overview. We got it in place. Then the argument from Høie and Solberg, and as far as me too, was that yes, the numbers might be unpleasant, but we had to get them on the table to be able to shop.
She says that today they are in the same situation when it comes to hospitals.
– And we know nothing about how long the health queue is. I ask myself: Is it because you do not want that debate, Jensen says.
Høie rejects the criticism
Erna Solberg has asked Minister of Health Bent Høie (H) to respond to the criticism. He says in an email that the government does not keep numbers secret:
“After six years in government, I reckon that the FRP’s leader knows that the waiting time figures are updated monthly, quarterly and annually and are published continuously on the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s website. These figures show that waiting times have increased in 2020 as a result of the virus outbreak. “
He writes that this is the reason why the government has made an “extraordinary investment in the hospitals in the 2021 budget”.
“We hope the FRP in the Storting supports this offensive health budget.”
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