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.
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.
Your rights in case of exceeded waiting time – a short summary
If you have a case of exceeded waiting time, you have the following rights:
- The hospital or treatment centre that is not able to provide healthcare to you within the guaranteed maximum waiting time, must notify Helfo.
- Helfo will contact you to ask if you wish to receive treatment elsewhere.
- If you want, Helfo will try to find another treatment centre for you.
- You are entitled to be reimbursed for eventual travel expenses.
In this article, you can read about what you as a patient need to know about what will / can happen in the event of a case of exceeded waiting time.
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 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.
Treatment within the EU/EEA in the event of long waiting times in Norway
If you are not offered treatment within a medically justifiable period of time in Norway, you can apply to Helfo for prior authorisation to have your treatment in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland.
Illustration: Morten Rakke / Helfo
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.
If you believe that your guaranteed maximum waiting time has been exceeded but not notified, 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 on the phone, Helfo will send you a letter asking you to reply as soon as possible if you wish to receive treatment elsewhere. 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 reply from you within the deadline in 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 (in Norwegian). 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. For children aged 12–16, Helfo will, as a general rule, obtain confirmation that the parents / legal guardian(s) have been informed that the child has been referred. When Helfo receives confirmation of this, the parents / legal guardian will be contacted.
Offer of treatment elsewhere
When Helfo telephones, you must answer if you want Helfo to find another treatment centre for you.
If you do not want Helfo to find another treatment centre for you, you will remain on the waiting list at your original place of treatment. In this case, you should expect to wait longer than the period that has been assessed as medically defensible for your condition. If you change your mind, you can contact Helfo yourself.
If you do want Helfo to find another treatment centre for you, Helfo will contact the treatment providers it has framework agreements with (in Norwegian). If you accept the treatment that Helfo has arranged, you will be removed from the waiting list of your original place of treatment. For the treatment you receive, you will pay a user fee in accordance with the applicable rates for public healthcare treatment.
If you do not want to take up the offer that Helfo finds for you, Helfo cannot later on propose a new offer of treatment 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 will still try to find a place for you
Your original place of treatment will still try to find a place for you even after notifying that it expects to exceed the waiting time. If they find you a place and you have already accepted an offer from another treatment place, you can choose which offer you want to use.
Travel and travel expenses
Generally, you will have to make the travel arrangements yourself. Pay expenses, such as coach and train fares, up front, and claim reimbursement afterwards.
To claim reimbursement of these expenses, you must fill in and send a completed patient travel expenses claim form to Pasientreiser. You can not apply digitally.
If you live in Northern Norway and need to fly and/or stay in a hotel, you must call G Travel Pasientreiser (phone 37 05 24 15), which will book and pay for this.
If you live elsewhere in Norway, you must call Pasientreiser (phone 915 05 515), which will book and pay for the flight. If you have to stay in a hotel, you need to arrange this yourself and then submit a reimbursement claim to Pasientreiser.
Note! You must quote the claim number you receive by SMS from Helfo and also mention that you are an «exceeded-waiting-time patient».
If you have a confirmation from your doctor that you need a travel companion, you must show this to the travel organiser.