Sweden’s Hospitals Now Face Nationwide Staff Shortages: Report

Sweden’s capital is considering shelving all non-essential health-care services to free up resources needed to tackle the relentless rise in Covid-19 cases.

The proposal, which would be effective till the end of January, is due to be discussed later on Tuesday, Bjorn Eriksson, Director of Health and Medical Services for the Stockholm region, told reporters in the Swedish capital.

The redeployment would help Sweden tackle the “historically high” health-care needs its citizens are facing during the pandemic. Occupancy rates in the intensive care wards of the largest Nordic metropolis were “well over 100%” on Monday, Eriksson said.

Almost all of Sweden’s regional hospitals are now struggling with a shortage of health-care staff, Swedish Radio reported. University hospitals across the country, with the single exception of Norrland University Hospital in Sweden’s northernmost region, no longer have enough employees to look after the sickest Covid patients, the broadcaster said.

Sweden is trying to contain a much more serious resurgence of the virus than its top health authorities predicted would grip the country in a second wave. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven criticized that failure, in a separate report published in Aftonbladet on Tuesday.

Last week, Stockholm’s health-care system almost caved under the pressure of the pandemic as its intensive care capacity hit 99%. Local authorities have since raised the alarm level to the second of three categories, enabling a forced redeployment of staff to address the health emergency.

As of Tuesday, Sweden had registered 651 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days, compared with 527 and 98 in neighboring Denmark and Norway, respectively, according to World Health Organization data.

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