New rules pave the way for freedom of choice

Press release

A new law is due shortly that will make it easier for Swedish municipalities and county councils to introduce freedom of choice for patients and clients in their health care and social care systems. Under the new law, more people in need of care and assistance will be able to choose who they want to provide it.

The law, due to come into force on 1 January 2009, regulates how municipalities and county councils are to proceed if they decide to introduce a freedom-of-choice system in their care services. The government bill that has now been submitted to the Riksdag (Swedish parliament) proposes appointing the Competition Authority as the agency responsible for supervising the law. The Competition Authority and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Nutek) have been jointly assigned to provide information about the contents of the law and the opportunities it affords.

”The law will be of great value in inspiring more municipalities and county councils to introduce freedom of choice for citizens in their care systems,” says the Competition Authority’s Acting Director General, Jan-Erik Ljusberg. ”The importance of giving patients and clients the chance to choose freely has long been discussed, and now we’re getting a set of regulations that will facilitate such a course.”

Under the new law, it will be easier for those requiring health and social care to choose for themselves who is to provide it.

Today, care provision is usually arranged by the municipalities or county councils, either in-house or through outsourcing. Patients are then directed to the chosen provider. The freedom-of-choice system opens up completely new opportunities. From the turn of the year, county councils and municipalities will be able to approve a range of different actors capable of providing the requisite care, and patients will then be able to decide the provider themselves.

“If patients or clients are not happy with how a care provider is looking after them, they are free to switch to another provider,” says Jan-Erik Ljusberg. “This means that the question of who provides the care will be determined by quality, not by the lowest price.”

The Competition Authority is to produce information on how the new law concerning freedom of choice works, and how it may be applied. The information will be posted on the agency’s website at www.kkv.se and also distributed elsewhere.

“Our aim is to make it easier for all procuring entities and public authorities – as well as suppliers – to apply the new rules,” says Jan-Erik Ljusberg.

For further information, please contact:
Jimmy Dominius, Press Officer, tel +46 8-700 15 80 or +46 73-773 15 80
Peter Carlberg, Case Officer, tel +46 8-700 16 17 or +46 73-773 16 17

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