Revised state budget

Ombudsman for the Elderly to close

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The government has announced in its revised state budget that it intends to dissolve Ombudsman for the Elderly (Eldreombodet) as of 1 July 2023. As a result, the budget also proposes a NOK 1 million reduction to the service’s grant for the current year as part of its planned closure.

The government notes that this dissolution is primarily on financial grounds. Several of the areas within the remit of the Ombudsman for the Elderly are already covered by other ombudsmen and public bodies. In light of the challenging situation in terms of resources, the government holds that this allocation of resources is not justifiable on the basis that different bodies have overlapping areas of responsibility and functions.

Recognition of efforts

‘The government recognises the efforts of the Ombudsman for the Elderly in raising the visibility of its stakeholders and the challenges they face in many areas over the course of its short life. The elderly are a diverse group and there are many actors who represent their interests. In an era in which we must choose our priorities, the government feels that tidying up these overlapping functions and areas of responsibility is the right thing to do,’ says Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care Services.

The government wants to ensure that society as a whole caters to the elderly. This is achieved by ensuring that all stakeholders in wider society are aware of and address the challenges that the elderly can encounter in different sectors. It should not be the duty of a single ombudsman to care about the situation that elderly people face.

A range of organisations work actively to promote the interests of Norway’s elderly population. The Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion will now represent the government in four annual meetings with organisations representing pensioners.

The ‘live at home safely’ reform

‘The government is very focused on preparing for the fact that the number of elderly people in Norway is on the rise, and we have now started work on our “Live at home safely” reform. This will incorporate perspectives on building a society that accommodates the elderly across sectors, including in terms of safe and adapted housing, digitalisation, local communities and transportation,’ says Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care Services.

‘We will ensure that the work of the ombudsman lives on,’ she emphasises. 

The government will strengthen the Health and Social Services Ombudsman to ensure that they have a presence across Norway, and will benefit elderly people who use health and social services.

Gradual closure

The government will announce further details of the process in its state budget in the autumn. The dissolution of the Ombudsman for the Elderly next summer has been announced now out of consideration for the service’s staff and its activities, and to enable the body to plan for a gradual closure in partnership with the Ministry.

The current Ombudsman, Bente Lund Jacobsen, was informed of the decision in advance by the Minister of Health and Care Services, and she will brief the service’s staff ahead of the presentation of the revised state budget. The Ministry will then set out their rights and the process ahead. The Ministry will assist the Ombudsman for the Elderly in performing the necessary administrative tasks to close the service.