Doctors rage against new patient fee in the Västra Götaland region

Doctors rage against new patient fee in the Vastra Gotaland



full screen The new chat fee worries doctors. Photo: Samuel Steén/TT / TT News Agency

A short follow-up call via chat or phone with a doctor in the Västra Götaland region will now cost SEK 160.

Something that upsets and worries doctors.

– It can be something like: “Have you had any side effects, no, okay, then we’ll hear from you again in two weeks”. It feels embarrassing that it will cost money, says a doctor at a health center in Gothenburg.

  • From 1 April, short follow-up care contacts with doctors and nurses in Västra Götaland will cost SEK 160, which is causing criticism among doctors.
  • They believe that the fee may lead to patients avoiding calls, with the risk of deteriorating quality of care.
  • The medical association warns that the fee can be difficult to pay for patients in socio-economically vulnerable areas.
  • ⓘ The summary is made with the support of AI tools from OpenAI and quality assured by Aftonbladet. Read our AI policy here.

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    As of April 1, the Västra Götaland region has introduced new patient fees.

    A visit to a health center will be more expensive – but it will also cost to have a very short healthcare contact with a doctor or nurse, over the phone or chat.

    Aftonbladet has spoken to a doctor at a health center in Gothenburg who wishes the whole thing was an April Fool’s joke.

    – I very often have short conversations with my patients. Quick reconciliations around new medicines and so on. It might only take two, three minutes.

    Can’t resist invoicing: “Going back”

    Having to bill for these short calls feels unreasonable, administratively cumbersome, and even embarrassing.

    – It will probably be that people will not want to have these phone calls, which I appreciated very much to be able to have. So it will be more complicated to follow up the care, and there will certainly be many complaints from patients.

    FACTS The new fees in the Västra Götaland region

    Some of the changes from 1 April 2024:

    The patient fee for doctor visits at the health center where you are listed is increased from SEK 100 to SEK 200.

    The fee for visits to the hospital’s emergency departments will be increased from SEK 300 to SEK 400.

    Patient fee for visits to a nurse at a health center will be reintroduced for people over the age of 65.

    A patient fee is introduced for digital care visits via chat or phone – 80 percent of what the corresponding physical visit would have cost.

    Source: Region Västra Götaland

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    Simply not invoicing is also not possible.

    – As soon as I register a call in the medical record, which I have to do, SEK 160 is deducted from the health center. So there will be no income for the health center at all, everything goes to the region. And if I don’t bill, we’ll go backwards, says the doctor.

    Jakob Nyhlén at the Medical Association in Västra Götaland, on the one hand, sees positively that the region highlights that healthcare contacts digitally and over the phone are something that takes time and manpower.

    But he believes that the new system is difficult for the public to understand.

    – Now the residents have to guess – will it be free or will it cost 160 bucks? And once the patient has asked the question, we cannot say that “we cannot answer this without invoicing you”. It won’t be good care, we can’t ignore the information that the patients give us, says Jakob Nyhlén, chairman of the primary care section of Västra Götaland’s medical association.


    full screenJakob Nyhlén is afraid that the fees are a deterrent for people who are having a tough time financially. Photo: Swedish Medical Association

    The Medical Association: “People cannot afford their medicines”

    According to the new rules, the call or the digital care contact must cost when the care contact “meets the requirements for qualified healthcare”. The sum is 80 percent of a visit to one’s health center, which costs SEK 200 in the region.

    Rebooking a doctor’s appointment costs nothing, but as soon as you discuss your treatment or medication, you are billed.

    Jakob Nyhlén works at Närhälsan at Gamlestadstorget, and has many patients from Gothenburg’s eastern suburbs such as Bergsjön and Hjällbo.

    – I get recurring comments that you can’t afford to collect your medicines. Then it costs SEK 160 more than if you are well-ordered. It risks becoming a care problem when patients hesitate to contact care.

    Simpler care contacts by phone or chat should be seen as a complement, Jakob Nyhlén thinks. Now it can instead be seen as more “affordable” to visit the health center, instead of solving a simpler matter remotely.

    – I don’t think the population or the healthcare profession think that the politicians price such calls as 80 percent of a physical visit is reasonable.

    Aftonbladet has sought Janette Olsson, chairman of the strategic health and medical care board in Västra Götaland, who could not be reached for an interview.

    – There are criteria for what is qualified healthcare. And I think it’s about having clear information out to the patients about the fees we have. If you receive care and treatment, regardless of whether it concerns a chat, digital or physical visit, it costs a patient fee, says Janette Olsson (S), to TV4 who first reported about the criticism of the new fees.