Capacity and services at hospitals

For many years, there has been a trend in the Nordic countries towards fewer hospital beds. Resources have been concentrated in fewer units, often involving a division of work in the most specialized areas. Units have often been merged administratively, not necessarily leading to fewer physical units. Some of the existing hospitals have become smaller in terms of in-patient service capacity.

A general description

Over the past few decades some of the Nordic countries have seen a shift within mental health services to a greater extent provided in specialized out-patient settings or as part of primary care services, instead of psychiatric inpatient care. This general development has not been similar in the Nordic countries.

The overall trend is that the number of units/treatment places as well as the average length of stay in hospitals has been reduced.

Hospital beds are divided into medical, surgical, psychiatric and ‘other’ beds. Particularly for Finland and Iceland, the category 'other' beds, includes services that are available in health care centers. In Finland, Iceland and Greenland health centers offer some in-patient services with beds. Some of these beds are designated for care of the elderly, similar to nursing homes and old peoples’ homes in the other countries. Particularly in the case of Finland and Iceland, this results in a higher number of hospital beds per capita than in the other countries.

Data on hospital discharges and average length of stay apply to patients admitted to ordinary hospitals and specialized hospitals only, in order to save comparability between the countries.