Right to a binding deadline

Have you received a response to your referral informing you that you are entitled to healthcare from the specialist health service? If so, the response should also include a binding deadline for the latest date by which you should be called to your first appointment.

What does the binding deadline mean?

The response you receive concerning your referral should state:

  • A deadline for the latest start of your healthcare.
  • The time of your first appointment, or alternatively a statement of when the treatment centre expects to call you to your first appointment.

The deadline you are given is a legally binding deadline for the treatment centre. It must be a specific time and indicate how long it would be prudent to let you wait before your medical investigation or treatment starts.

The second time will be the time you must attend for your first appointment. This time is not binding, but it must be before the binding deadline for the start of your healthcare.

How is the deadline determined?

The specialist health service will base the deadline on the Directorate of Health's priority guides. These guides state the recommended maximum deadlines for different medical conditions and diagnoses assessed at group level. Nevertheless, all referrals are assessed individually, so the waiting time for the start of investigations or treatment will vary from patient to patient.

The statutory deadline for commencement must not be determined by the capacity of the specialist health service. The waiting time for healthcare may nevertheless partly depend on the capacity of the treatment centre. The waiting time must in any case be both justifiable and always set within the deadline.

What should you do if you disagree with the deadline?

If you disagree with the deadline for the latest commencement of your healthcare, you can:

  • Check whether other public treatment providers have a shorter waiting time
  • Contact a general practitioner, preferably your family doctor, and request a new assessment  

What should you do if the deadline is broken or postponed?

If you are not given a time for your first appointment for medical investigations or treatment by the binding deadline, the treatment centre must contact Helfo. They will help you find an alternative treatment offer elsewhere, within the statutory deadline.

You can also opt to receive the healthcare at the original treatment centre, even if this means that you receive the healthcare after the statutory deadline. Breaching the deadline does not necessarily mean that it is unjustifiable to let you wait beyond the statutory deadline.

You can also contact Helfo yourself.

Health and Social Services Ombudsman

The ombudsman can help you with questions about health services and provide advice and guidance concerning your rights.

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

The Norwegian Directorate of Health. Right to a binding deadline. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Tuesday, April 2, 2024 [retrieved Sunday, July 14, 2024]. Available from: https://www.helsenorge.no/en/health-rights-in-norway/sykehus-og-spesialist/rett-til-bindende-frist/

Last updated Tuesday, April 2, 2024