About COVID-19: For older people, people with health conditions and health care and social services staff

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Here you can read about measures, advice and restrictions that concern older people, people with health conditions, risk groups and health and social care staff. This is the third article in a series about the work of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in response to the COVID-19 virus.

More clinical studies about COVID-19

More clinical studies linked to COVID-19 are needed, and Swedish patients need access to the new medicines that are being developed. The Government has therefore instructed the Swedish Research Council to temporarily bolster activities concerning clinical studies in Sweden. Researchers will receive greater support so that more studies linked to COVID-19 can be conducted in the Swedish health and medical care system.

Shorter waiting lists not required to be eligible for the ‘waiting list billion’

The Government considers that the focus in all regions right now should be on COVID-19 and helping patients who are acutely ill. It has therefore decided to remove the requirement of shorter waiting lists to be eligible for the ‘waiting list billion’ in 2020.

Expanded digital contact channels to safeguard mental health

The Government considers that the COVID-19 pandemic can affect people’s mental wellbeing. It is therefore important that contacting mental health services is easy. The Government wants to support effective communication among care services, patients and relatives in cases where physical visits are not possible as a result of the spread of COVID-19.

The Government has therefore instructed the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency to provide SEK 24 million to the regions to develop and strengthen digital contact channels to activities that receive patients with mental health issues.

The three metropolitan regions – Stockholm Region, Region Västra Götaland and Region Skåne – will each receive SEK 2 million. The other regions will each receive SEK 1 million.

Analyse risks in health and social care

The Government wants to limit the negative repercussions of COVID-19 and to strengthen knowledge and preparedness for the future when it comes to communicable diseases. It has therefore instructed the Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO) to particularly analyse the implications of COVID-19 for quality and safety in health and social care.

IVO is to submit an interim report to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs by 13 December 2020. The final report is to be submitted by 1 December 2021.

Starting at the end of April and throughout May, IVO is conducting 1000 inspections of care facilities for older people in all of Sweden’s municipalities. The aim is to enhance learning in care for older people and to facilitate the implementation of improvement measures.

Expanded opportunities for temporary parental benefit

The opportunities to receive temporary parental benefit have been expanded in a new ordinance. If it should be necessary to close e.g. preschools and schools to limit the spread of the virus, parents who have to stay home from work to care for children will be eligible for temporary parental benefit. In such situations, parents will receive approximately 90 per cent of the daily allowance they would normally receive in temporary parental benefit.

The new ordinance also contains an exemption from the requirement of a medical opinion to verify the special need for care or supervision if temporary parental benefit is to be paid when a child between the ages of 12 and 16 is sick. The need must still be verified, but it can be done by some other means than a medical opinion.

The ordinance entered into force on 25 April 2020 and applies to temporary parental benefit from that date. The ordinance will cease to apply at the end of September 2020.

Identifying particularly vulnerable risk groups

The Government has instructed the National Board of Health and Welfare to identify those groups that are at the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill should they contract COVID-19. These groups may have a particular need for protection against infection.

The National Board of Health and Welfare presented its final report on 17 April 2020. The report shows that there are groups of individuals who may need particular protection against infection since they are either at risk of becoming seriously ill should they contract COVID-19, or are more susceptible to viral infections. Work on this issue is under way and the Government intends to provide more information at a later date.

Number of tests for COVID-19 to increase dramatically and more groups to be tested

At the instruction of the Government, the Public Health Agency of Sweden has developed a strategy on how to increase the number of tests and how more essential groups can be tested without it impacting on the most prioritised groups: patients and health and medical care staff.

Government removes reporting requirements for municipalities and regions

To make it easier for municipalities and regions, considering the difficult situation they find themselves in, the Government has decided to remove the requirements on reporting in 2020 concerning five agreements between central government and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities (SALAR).

This means that municipalities and regions do not have to provide data on the results of the initiatives in question. The reporting requirements on SALAR remain in place. Certain payments will also be made earlier than planned.

Government appoints national coordinator for clinical studies on COVID-19

A number of medications are currently being used against COVID-19, but our knowledge is still imperfect. It is therefore extremely important that clinical studies are used to develop more knowledge about which medicines can be effective in the treatment of people who have contracted COVID-19. 

Sweden has been given the opportunity to participate in the WHO Solidarity Trial that aims to test the effectiveness and safety of medicines currently being used to treat COVID-19 patients. Swedish university hospitals have expressed interest in the study and have established a network for participation.

The Government has appointed senior physician and associate professor Soo Aleman as national research study coordinator for the Swedish part of the WHO Solidarity Trial.