Last week, the municipality of Mosfellsbær, on the outskirts of the capital city Reykjavík, signed an agreement that allows a private hospital to be built there, with funding by foreign investors and ostensibly for patients living overseas and staffed by foreign health professionals. The investors must have produced a business strategy by December 2017 and a building permit within two years.The projected cost is the same as that of building a new public hospital – something which has been discussed for many years and for which the first steps have been taken.
Opposition has arisen from politicians, health professionals and the general public. The Minister of Health said that he first heard the news from the press (though he has been photographed previously with the protagonist behind the scheme). Others have said that the Icelandic health service has enough problems of its own without the extra burden of a private hospital. For instance, there is a lack of doctors and nurses as it is, so that the National University Hospital (Landsspítali) is now looking to overseas for staff – the first foreign oncologist has been recruited from India. These are the same people that the private hospital hopes to recruit.
The idea of building a private hospital where foreigners can undergo surgery is not new as the idea has cropped up before more than once, but been abandoned due to lack of interest. Let’s hope the same applies to this idea.