Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

COHERE Working Paper,
University of Southern Denmark, COHERE - Centre of Health Economics Research

No 2017:7: Hospital centralization and performance in Denmark - ten years on

Terkel Christiansen () and Karsten Vrangbæk
Additional contact information
Terkel Christiansen: Department of Business and Economics, and COHERE, Postal: University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
Karsten Vrangbæk: Department of Public Health, Postal: University of Copenhagen

Abstract: Denmark implemented a major reform of the administrative and political structure in 2007 when the previous 13 counties were merged into five new regions and the number of municipalities was reduced from 271 to 98. A main objective was to create administrative units that were large enough to support a hospital structure with few acute hospitals in each region and to centralize specialized care in fewer hospitals. This paper analyses the reorganization of the somatic hospital sector in Denmark since 2007, discusses the mechanisms behind the changes and analyses hospital performance after the reform. The reform emphasized an improved acute service and high quality. The number of acute hospitals was reduced from about 40 to 21 hospitals with joint acute facilities. The restructuring and geographical placement of acute hospitals took place in a democratic process subject to central guidelines and requirements. Since the reform, hospital productivity has increased by more than 2 per cent per year and costs have been stable. While the overall indicators point to a successful reform, it has also been criticized that some people in remote areas feel “left behind” in the economic development and that hospital staff are under increased workload pressure. Concurrent with the centralization of hospitals municipalities strengthened their health service with an emphasis on prevention and health promotion.

Keywords: Government health policy; state and local taxation; state and local budgets and expenditures; state and local government - health; clinical specialization; acute health care

JEL-codes: H71; H72; H75; I18

33 pages, October 30, 2017

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