The National Budget 2023

More for hospitals and 24-hour treatment in the mental healthcare sector

The government is proposing to increase the operating budget for Norway’s hospitals by a total of NOK 2.7 billion. NOK 2 billion will go to increasing activity growth, while NOK 700 million will go to increasing basic funding. NOK 150 million of this is earmarked to provide more capacity for 24-hour treatment in the medical healthcare sector.

Corrected for efficiency improvement requirements totalling NOK 263 million, the government is proposing to increase the operating budget of Norway’s hospitals by NOK 2,437 million in 2023.

‘In what is a tight budget, it is still important that we prioritise our hospitals. The government is ensuring more money is available to hospitals and mental health facilities providing 24-hour treatment by increasing the operating budget for hospitals, which was just above the annual rate of growth under the previous government,’ says Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care Services.

‘I am also delighted that we are in a position to give more money to secure more capacity for those receiving round-the-clock treatment in the mental healthcare sector. Mental health, particularly among children and young people, is a priority for this government. Those who need it will be given help.’

Great financial freedom

The government is proposing an increase to hospital budgets. This will generate a 1.5 per cent increase in the treatment of patients. Seen in isolation, demographic trends indicate an activity-based growth of 1.3 per cent. The increase to the basic funding package will provide headroom that will allow for maintenance, investment, contingency work and better intensive care capacity. It will also ensure that there is capacity in place to provide 24-hour psychiatric care to children, young people and adults.

The government wants to give health enterprises great strategic room for manoeuvre by increasing funding available through the financial framework, which is why it is proposing a reduction in activity-based financing of somatic healthcare services from 50 to 40 per cent, the equivalent of NOK 8.5 billion.

‘It is important to us that hospitals have the space to prioritise activities that don’t generate revenues through activity-based financing. We want to make it easy for hospitals and professionals to pick the right priorities. This change may also make it easier to prioritise mental health in relation to somatics,’ says Ingvild Kjerkol.

The pandemic led to the postponement of hospital treatment for many, and there is now hard work taking place to catch up. The government’s target is that waiting times will not increase in 2023. In the long-term, the government’s target is for average waiting times to be less than 50 days.

Change necessary

Following the presentation of the 2022 state budget, higher growth in prices and pay has resulted in lower growth in real terms for regional health enterprises’ operating budgets in 2022.

No compensation will be offered for this increase in costs in 2023, either. High costs will continue to affect hospital finances in 2023. In order to adapt to the economic outlook, health enterprises must therefore implement change. Health enterprises must also assess whether investment projects that have not yet been implemented should be deferred.