The National Budget 2023

Historic investment in the Regular General Practitioner Scheme

The government is proposing a NOK 690 million boost to the Regular General Practitioner Scheme in 2023, resulting in a total annual budget of NOK 920 million. In what is an otherwise tight budget, the government has still been able to accommodate an historic investment in the Regular General Practitioner Scheme, which will be distributed across basic funding, recruitment and research.

‘We are taking the crisis in the Regular General Practitioner Scheme very seriously by proposing a NOK 690 million boost to the scheme in 2023, with this increase being worth almost NOK 1 billion over the course of a full year. In the meantime, we have also appointed an expert committee who will be tasked with working to rapidly draw up tangible proposals for improvements ahead of the 2024 state budget. This is an historic investment,’ says Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care Services.

‘I am delighted to propose a budget that prioritises our public welfare services. We are not prepared to accept the trend that increasingly sees those with an ability to pay advantaged through access to quicker or better healthcare. This gives rise to social inequality. A sustainable Regular General Practitioner Scheme is essential if we are to counteract further privatisation,’ says Kjerkol.

Better, more targeted basic grant funding

At present, many people in Norway do not have a regular GP. Patients with chronic illnesses and those with complex needs require more care and closer observation. Too few junior doctors want to enter general practice, while too many experienced doctors are leaving the profession. In order to provide patients with a better service and GPs with better working conditions that mean they have more time for patients, the government is proposing to amend and boost the basic grant from 1 May.

This amendment will see the basic grant enhanced by NOK 480 million in 2023, while the boost over a full year will be worth NOK 720 million. The government will thereby make it possible for GPs to have shorter patient lists without any loss of income, or enable them to appoint other practice staff. This boost will help to deliver a better medical service, especially to those patients who have more demanding needs. For example, the elderly, those with chronic conditions and patients with complex needs, including those receiving support for addiction issues and psychiatric issues, will find that their doctor has more time for them and to interact positively with other welfare services.

‘We want to remain in close dialogue with the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities and the Norwegian Medical Association to ensure that we are able to achieve the best possible implementation of this change that will take effect in May 2023. The expert committee will also assess possible changes to the funding model. Nevertheless, we believe that it is important to make changes to the model now,’ says Kjerkol.

Better facilitation of specialisation

An adjusted specialisation track in general medical practice (ALIS) is one of the most important initiatives being proposed to ensure the recruitment of more doctors. These ALIS agreements will provide further assurance and financial predictability to junior doctors who seek to specialise, making it more attractive to become a GP.

In order to ensure that everyone starting a specialisation track in general medical practice is able to secure an ALIS agreement, the government is proposing a boost of NOK 200 million to the ALIS scheme as part of this historic investment. A total of NOK 425 million will be committed to ALIS agreements in 2023.

‘The steps that we are now taking will help to ensure that we bring more doctors onto the scheme and that we keep those that are already on board,’ says Kjerkol.

Making research easier in general practice

Enhanced knowledge through research is at the heart of developing the health and care services of the future, to prioritising correctly, and for ongoing and systematic work to improve quality and patient safety.

In order to facilitate this, the government is proposing to award NOK 10 million to support the operation of the Norwegian Primary Care Research Network during 2023.

This research network helps researchers to carry out clinical studies in Norwegian general practice that are of a good standard and assured in terms of quality.