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Your rights in case of exceeded waiting time

If the maximum waiting time for healthcare you were guaranteed is exceeded, you have the right to treatment elsewhere. If you wish to exercise this right, your hospital or treatment centre will contact the Helfo Patient Referral Unit which will find another healthcare provider for you.

Foto: Morten Rakke / Helfo

The guaranteed maximum waiting time gives some indication of how long it is medically defensible for you to wait to receive healthcare. In finding treatment for you elsewhere, Helfo reduces the waiting time and in that way reinforces your rights as a patient.

Referral to the specialist health service

If you become sick, you will normally start by consulting your regular GP. If you require treatment, your regular GP can refer you to a hospital or treatment centre (also known as the specialist health service). Other healthcare providers than  your regular GP can also refer you.

Examples of healthcare within the specialist health service:

  • surgical procedures
  • clinical diagnostic procedures
  • treatment at a psychiatric outpatient clinic
  • treatment at a substance abuse centre

Within 10 working days of receiving the referral, the specialist health service must decide if you have the right to treatment from a specialist. Based on an assessment of your state of health, you will either be offered healthcare within the specialist health service, or will be referred back to the original referrer.

If you disagree with the assessment or the guaranteed maximum waiting time you receive from the specialist health service, you can request reassessment of your referral. If your request is rejected, you can file a complaint with the Office of the County Governor in your county.

The specialist health service notifies an exceeded waiting time

The specialist health service is responsible for notifying Helfo if it sees in advance that it will be unable to provide healthcare to you within the guaranteed maximum waiting time. It must also notify Helfo if it has already exceeded the time. If you want to exercise your right to treatment elsewhere, Helfo will arrange this for you.

This will not cost you extra, and any travel expenses will be reimbursed to you.

If you believe that your guaranteed maximum waiting time has been exceeded but not notified to Helfo, you can contact Helfo yourself. Helfo will then immediately contact the hospital or treatment centre concerned. If it turns out that your waiting time has been exceeded, the place of treatment will be given a short time limit in which to set a new date for you.

Helfo contacts you

If your guaranteed waiting time has been exceeded, Helfo will telephone you to ask if you wish to receive treatment elsewhere.

If Helfo is unable to get hold of you within 3 days, Helfo will send you a letter asking you to reply as soon as possible if you wish to receive treatment elsewhere. After the 3 days, even if Helfo did not get hold of you, Helfo starts the process of finding an alternative option for you.

If Helfo does not receive a written reply from you within 10 days of sending the letter, you will be referred back to your original place of treatment. You will keep your place on the waiting list there.

Many people whose guaranteed waiting time is exceeded initially receive a smartphone text message with information from Helfo. This will apply to you if your mobile phone number is registered in the DIFI directory. Click this link to learn more about text messages from Helfo (in Norwegian).

Patients under the age of 16 will not be telephoned or texted by Helfo. For children under 12, Helfo will contact their parents or legal guardian, and contact with adolescents aged 12 to 16 will in most cases be through their doctor or other referrer.

Offer of treatment elsewhere

When Helfo telephones, you must answer if you want Helfo to arrange another healthcare option for you.

You can decline this offer. If so, you will stay on the waiting list at your original place of treatment. You will then most likely have to wait longer than is assessed as medically defensible for your state of health. If you change your mind, you will need to contact Helfo yourself.

If you accept the offer, Helfo will contact the healthcare providers Helfo has framework agreements with in order to find treatment for you elsewhere.

If you decide not to accept the healthcare alternative Helfo finds for you, Helfo will not subsequently be able to offer you another alternative for the same exceeded waiting time.

In some cases, Helfo is unable to find an alternative healthcare option for you. You will then be referred back to the original place of treatment that exceeded the waiting time, and will keep your place on the waiting list.

Your original place of treatment

Your original place of treatment still has the option of trying to find a place for you even after notifying that it expects to exceed the waiting time.

If it does find a place for you before it exceeds the waiting time, you must then accept this place, even if you have already accepted an offer from Helfo.

If the original place of treatment offers you a new treatment option after it exceeded the waiting time, Helfo will decide which of the two offers gives you the shortest waiting time. You will then be required to accept that offer.

Travel expenses

You will have to make the travel arrangements yourself. Pay expenses, such as coach and train fare, up front, and claim reimbursement afterwards. To claim reimbursement of these expenses, you must send in your receipts or other proof of travel and a completed patient travel expenses claim form to: Pasientreiser HF, Postboks 2864 Kjørbekk, 3702 Skien.

You must quote the Norwegian word «Fristbrudd» on the front of the claim form. Mark the envelope with this as well. Quote the claim number stated in the letter you received from Helfo concerning the exceeded waiting time in the comments field on the back of the claim form. You must also state the name of your original place of treatment and ward in the same field.

Find the travel expenses claim form here.

If you will be flying, your flight will be booked by Egencia Bodø if you live in Northern Norway, and by Pasientreiser if you live in other parts of the country. This saves you from having to pay the cost out of pocket. You will receive contact information from Helfo.

When booking and paying for hotel accommodation, arrangements differ in different parts of Norway. If you have any questions about this, please contact Pasientreiser.