The author – and doctor – P.C. Jersild had an op-ed column in Saturday’s DN about privatisation of Swedish hospitals.
To make a very long and complicated story short, the centre-right majorities which ruled Stockholm City and Stockholm County councils during the electoral term 1998-2002 had privatisations of public services and council housing as a central part of their political agenda.
This led to a heated debate between the local and national levels and in the end, the Social Democratic government passed legislation banning the sale of general hospitals and making the sale of council housing more difficult.
Following the change of power at the national level, these policies have been reversed: The centre-right government supports the sale of council housing and has presented legislation which will again make it possible for county councils to sell off hospitals.
As always with the present Swedish government, we face two questions: 1) Did the Swedish voters get what they thought they were getting – that is a politics question – and 2) do the government’s initiatives add up to a coherent policy.
The answer to question #1 seems to be a bit uncertain (did Fredrik Reinfeldt promise not to privatise hospitals or not during the electoral campaign?) and with regard to question #2, a supplementary question will be if the government has examined the effects of privatising hospitals for regional councils on a national basis or if this is a piece of Stockholm-based symbolic politics.
PS: Either my internet connection is acting up or the Swedish government’s web server is down. In any event I can’t get a link to the government’s proposed changes to the existing legislation.
Updated PS: Here is the link to the Swedish government’s page about the privatisation initiative.