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Key objectives for investments in hospital equipment have not been attained - Document no. 3:6 (2005–2006)

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) questions whether key objectives for the Storting’s allocation to the equipment plan for hospitals have been attained. The national cancer plan and the plan for investments in equipment in Norwegian hospitals that were implemented in the period 1998-2002 entailed an extraordinary investment of NOK 5.3 billion. The question is also raised as to whether the health enterprises’ general overview is adequate enough to enable them to assign priorities correctly and to achieve the best possible utilisation of the investments. 
Published 1/24/2006 5:13 PM

These are the main conclusions of The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of medical technical equipment in hospitals, Document no. 3:6 (2005–2006) that was submitted to the Storting on January 19.

The objective of the investigation was to clarify whether the hospitals have followed the priorities on which the Storting based the equipment plan, and whether the procedures for planning investments and training in the use of medical technical equipment are in accordance with the prevailing requirements.

The investigation shows that the average age of all groups of medical technical equipment was eight years in 1997, and that it was still the same at the end of 2003. For the groups of equipment that were given priority in the plan – equipment for radiology, endoscopy, intensive care and laboratory work – the average age of equipment for radiology and laboratory work is unchanged, while that for endoscopy and intensive care shows a marked increase. The investigation also shows that the average age of equipment only has been reduced in the Helse Vest enterprises in the western part of Norway. Moreover, it is pointed out that few health enterprises have an overview of their investments in medical technical equipment and of future investment needs.

The investigation also draws attention to the fact that there are considerable deficiencies in health enterprises’ procedures for planning investments in medical technical equipment – with the exception of the enterprises in Helse Vest. Significant deficiencies were also discovered in the routines for training in the use of medical technical equipment, apart from those in some Helse Sør enterprises in the southern part of the country. There are large differences between the hospitals and between departments within the hospitals. In addition, the quality of the training routines varies between the different personnel groups and according to their type of affiliation with the hospital. This can be of importance for patient safety.

In its response to the OAG, the Ministry of Health and Care Services concludes that the report describes findings which indicate that the health enterprises’ investments in medical technical equipment could have been better planned. The Ministry will ensure that the regional health enterprises take firmer control in this area in the future. It takes a serious view of the fact that the investigation indicates defects in training, and will implement measures to establish satisfactory routines that meet the requirements set for this area.

The document (in Norwegian) can be downloaded from this website or ordered from Akademika booksellers, tel. +47 22 11 67 70.

The provision concerning delayed public access to documents that are compiled by or sent to the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document no. 3:6 has been repealed, cf. Section 28, paragraph 2 of the Auditor General Act.

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