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Acute lack of GP’s in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg municipalities

On 30 August, the region responsible for medical care in the Greater Copenhagen area, Region Hovedstaden, announced that newcomers, and those moving around in Copenhagen city and Frederiksberg, were faced with almost 100 percent closed GP practices.

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By Bente D. Knudsen

It is no fun to be a newcomer to Copenhagen city or Frederiksberg, and these days in the beginning of September, amongst other, many students move here to start their new university life.

With 98 percent of GP practices closed to newcomers in Copenhagen Municipality, and 100 percent in Frederiksberg Municipality, the region is faced with a serious problem of ensuring that a GP is available to all its new citizens.

It is the region, Region Hovedstaden, who decides how many GP practices should be available per municipality. In the region, there are 1,048 general practitioners in 645 practices at the moment.

A GP has on average 1,748 patients.

Over the last couple of years almost 20,000 newcomers have moved to the Copenhagen Region (net figures), which according to the region requires approx. 10 new GPs.

A further 20 general practitioners have been assigned to the region (Region Hovedstaden) during 2017 and 2018, of which nine have been allocated to the Copenhagen area.

It has not been possible to attract GPs to all of them, with the result that Copenhagen and Frederiksberg municipalities now have an acute lack of GPs.

Qasam Nazir Ahmad (Alternativet), Chairperson of the Committee of Prevention in the capital region (Region Hovedstadens Udvalg for Forebyggelse og Sammenhæng) said in a press release that:

The situation is that three GP’s in Copenhagen have closed their practices, and as there are many newcomer students to the city, we have to ensure that all can visit a GP if necessary, therefore we propose to open two temporary offers.

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It was therefore decided end of August 2018 that the Capital Region( Region Hovedstaden) will open two temporary clinics as soon as possible at Amager Hospital and Bispebjerg/Frederiksberg Hospital.

When the clinics open, citizens in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg municipalities will be able to sign up to these two temporary clinics via borger.dk

According to the region’s spokesperson Qasam Nazir Ahmad, the region is working together with the GP organisation PLO-Hovedstaden, and the municipalities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, to find long term solutions to the problem.

The municipality of Frederiksberg, where 100 percent of their GPs have closed their practices to new patients, informs through their press officer, that they have a good cooperation with their GPs and do their utmost to find solutions to be able to allocate a GP to a newcomer.

Should it not be possible, then the newcomer will be offered a choice between two GPs within the Capital Region.

This means a GP who lives between five and fifteen km from the patient’s address. In the future, when the two temporary clinics have been established by the Capital Region, this means a choice also of the clinic at either Amager Hospital or Bisbebjerg/Frederiksberg Hospital.

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The capital region, Region Hovedstaden, informs that in the municipalities of Gentofte and Lyngby Taarbæk there are still GPs whose practices are open to newcomers.

The situation here is better as only between 40 and 60 percent of GPs are closed to new patients compared to the 98 and 100 percent in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg municipalities respectively.

For someone moving from one end of Copenhagen city to another, it is possible to keep the actual GP, if the move means the GP is still within five km from their (new) address. The five km regulation is valid for the municipality of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Tårnby and Dragør.

For other municipalities the distance is set at 15 km from the patient’s address.

If you move further away (than the 5 or 15 km) keeping your actual doctor will depend on whether the GP’s practice is open to new patients and that the GP accepts to keep you.

Read also our article : A GP system under pressure.

In general, the GP system is under pressure as 70 percent of GP practices are closed to newcomers.

A GP can close his practice to newcomers when he reaches 1,600 patients, this is the number of patients at the limit of what one GP can overcome to ensure that patients have access to their GP when needed.

Factors that impact on the GP system in Denmark is that: 10 percent of the GP’s are above the age of 65, and almost 30 percent will be retiring within the next 10 years.

According to the GP organisation PLO it has been difficult to recruit new GPs in some parts of Denmark (Editor’s note: the countryside and more isolated areas), and in general it is a challenge to get young doctors to choose to become a general practitioner at the time during their studies, when they decide which medical speciality they want to focus on.

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