Norwegian doctors sue state over training requirements

Norwegian Medical Association says failure to recognise Danish training breaches European Economic Area law

March 2, 2024
Rogaland hospital ship, , Stavanger, Norway
Source: iStock/pilesasmiles

The Norwegian Medical Association has launched legal action against the government, arguing that by declining to acknowledge specialist medical training completed in Denmark, the state is in contravention of European Economic Area law.

After completing their undergraduate degree, doctors in Denmark undergo a “basic clinical training” year, known as KBU. At present, Norway does not recognise KBU as equivalent to LIS1, the first stage of Norwegian specialised medical training, meaning doctors who have finished their KBU year must still complete LIS1 to continue their training in Norway.

In its lawsuit, the Norwegian Medical Association contends that by refusing to recognise KBU, Norway is failing to recognise equivalent professional qualifications, and is thus in violation of its EEA obligation to ensure free movement of workers.

“The Norwegian Medical Association has many members who have received their medical training in Denmark. When these doctors move to Norway, they are forced to duplicate part of their training due to the practice of the Norwegian authorities,” president Anne-Karin Rime told Times Higher Education.

“The Norwegian Medical Association has addressed this issue with the authorities and tried to find a solution for several years, but the authorities have declined to change their practice. We therefore see no other options for a solution other than legal proceedings to sue the Norwegian authorities.”

Norway is currently experiencing a shortage of GPs, Dr Rime noted. Last year, health minister Ingvild Kjerkol said in a statement that 220,000 Norwegians lacked a “dedicated GP”, and announced an increased investment in LIS1 training posts.

“When there is a shortage of resources for health personnel, and a fight for budget funds, it is incomprehensible that the health authorities have not been able to resolve this matter,” Dr Rime said. “Instead, they demand duplication of services for doctors who could, and should, have been used better elsewhere in the health service.”

Ole Henrik Krat Bjørkholt, state secretary in the Ministry of Health and Care Services, confirmed that the ministry had received the Norwegian Medical Association’s subpoena and would shortly be issuing a response.

Dr Bjørkholt said the ministry had already made changes that had “solved the problem for most students”, telling THE: “It was earlier a requirement that medical candidates from Denmark completed KBU in Denmark before entering LIS1…Our government has now made it possible for medical candidates from Denmark to enter LIS1 without first having completed KBU in Denmark.”

He added: “We are currently working hard to recruit more health personnel. It is imperative that we can offer health services of a good standard in Norway in the future.”

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles