All political parties in Norway agree that social inequalities in health comprise a public health problem and should be reduced. Against this background, the Council on Social Inequalities in Health has taken action to provide specific advice to reduce social health differences. Our recommendations focus on the entire social gradient rather than just poverty and the socially disadvantaged. By proposing action on the social determinants of health such as affordable child-care, education, living environments and income structures, we aim to facilitate a possible re-orientation of policy away from redistribution to universalism. The striking challenges of the causes of health differences are complex, and the 29 recommendations to combat social inequality of health demand cross sectorial actions. The recommendations are listed thematically and have not been prioritized. Some are fundamental and require pronounced changes across sectors, whereas others are minor and sector-specific.
In several European countries, including Norway, polices to increase patient choice of hospital provider have remained high on the political agenda. The main reason behind the interest in hospital choice reforms in Norway has been the belief that increasing choice can remedy the persistent problem of long waiting times for elective hospital care. Prior to the 2013 General Election, the Conservative Party campaigned in favour of a new choice reform: "the treatment choice reform". This article describes the background and process leading up to introduction of the reform in the autumn of 2015. It also provides a description of the content and discusses possible implications of the reform for patients, providers and government bodies. In sum, the reform contains elements of both continuity and change. The main novelty of the reform lies in the increased role of private for-profit healthcare providers.
Starting in 2015, the Swedish government has initiated a national reform to standardize cancer patient pathways and thereby eventually speed up treatment of cancer. Cancer care in Sweden is characterized by high survival rates and a generally high quality albeit long waiting times. The objective with the new national program to standardize cancer care pathways is to reduce these waiting times, increase patient satisfaction with cancer care and reduce regional inequalities. A new time-point for measuring the start of a care process is introduced called well-founded suspicion, which is individually designed for each cancer diagnosis. While medical guidelines are well established earlier, the standardisation is achieved by defining time boundaries for each step in the process. The cancer reform program is a collaborative effort initiated and incentivized by the central government while multi-professional groups develop the time-bound standardized care pathways, which the regional authorities are responsible for implementing. The broad stakeholder engagement and time-bound guidelines are interesting approaches to study for other countries that need to streamline care processes.
The main aim of the Swedish Women's Peace reform in 1998 was to enhance criminal legal protection for women exposed to violence in heterosexual relationships and to promote gender equality. However, these ambitions risk being contravened in a masculinist criminal legal system. One problem concerns how the victim is constructed in criminal legal cases. The author argues that moral balancing and discourses of responsibility and guilt in Swedish cases constrain the agency possible for women and suggest that a more comprehensive policy in Sweden must be developed to include violent men, their agency, and their responsibility for the violence.