The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe main obstacles for politicians when dealing with healthcare priority setting.
The study had an exploratory descriptive design based on interviews with 18 politicians from two different county councils in Sweden. The interviews were analyzed using inductive qualitative content analysis.
The politicians highlighted the importance of, and difficulties in, communicate political missions; the politicians in this study saw the media as not always being fair watchdogs, implying that possibly important but unpopular prioritizing decisions were not made because of the risks of being badly reported and therefore not re-elected. Breaking up established structures in care practice is difficult and change takes time, partly because of existing higher level financing and rules and the system’s traditional separation of facilities and services. Although the politicians highlighted their limited power to influence and control resource allocation they could give small and “lower profile”, low-prioritized disciplines control of their own budgets and base payments on the results the disciplines accomplished.
This study highlights the difficulties that politicians experience, for example, having to take unpleasant decisions and thereby run the risk of being scrutinized by media, which in turn could influence how effectively tax money is being used.
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