Healthcare in Sweden

Sundhedsvæsen i Sverige
How the Swedish healthcare system works.

All citizens resident in Sweden are entitled to treatment from their own doctor and specialists, and to subsidised medicine and a dental care grant.

The Swedish healthcare system

Sweden has a regional healthcare system that is largely separate from the social insurance. It is the county councils/regional authorities that are responsible for healthcare in Sweden. Every county council or regional authority has a duty to ensure that everyone living in the county or region can receive satisfactory treatment and care.

Most healthcare services are administered by county councils or regional authorities, but there are also private doctors who have agreements with the county councils.

The Swedish healthcare system is divided into two parts – outpatient care (öppenvård) and inpatient care (slutenvård). Outpatient care means that you can go home after your contact with the healthcare services, while inpatient care means that you are admitted to a hospital.

Healthcare guide

Sweden has a Healthcare Guide (telephone 1177) providing information about treatment, health and care throughout Sweden. When you call the Healthcare Guide, you receive healthcare advice and get answers to medical questions from trained nurses, who assess the problem, give advice and, if necessary, give information about where you should go for help. They also tell you where the nearest open clinic is when your local health centre is closed.

Health centre

Your first step is to contact a health centre (vårdcentral) with your questions on healthcare and treatment. Health centres have many different names, such as general practitioner clinic, family doctor clinic, or medical centre.

You can choose the health centre where you want to be listed within your county council/region. If the doctor at the health centre concludes that you need more specialised care or rehabilitation, you will be given a referral (remiss) to a specialist doctor at a hospital or another outpatient clinic.

Maternity clinic

At many health centres there is also a maternity clinic (mödravårdscentral, MVC), where midwives work. You can contact a maternity clinic if you have questions about contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases, or if you are pregnant. Most maternity clinics organise parent groups, and courses and instruction for pregnant women. Visiting a maternity clinic is free, and you can generally choose which clinic you want to belong to.

Paediatric clinics

Paediatric clinics (barnavårdscentralen, BVC) are often linked to health centres. Paediatric clinics carry out comprehensive examinations of healthy children up to the age of 6, after which the school health services take over.

Paediatric clinics also vaccinate children and provide advice on breast feeding, diet and sleep. As a parent of a sick child, regardless of age, you can contact the health centre (vårdcentralen) or the Children’s Emergency Department (barnakuten) at a hospital.

Emergency department in the event of severe illness

If you become severely ill or you are injured and need immediate treatment, you should contact the Emergency Department (akuten) of the nearest hospital. If the emergency is less severe, you can be treated at a health centre (daytime) or at an out-of-hours centre (jourmottagning) (evenings and weekends).

If your condition is life-threatening, you should contact SOS Alarm by ringing 112.

Specialist doctors

You can contact a specialist doctor, such as a gynaecologist, urologist or ear, nose and throat specialist, both in and outside a hospital. You will generally get an appointment with a specialist doctor faster if you have a referral from your GP.

Healthcare Guarantee

The Healthcare Guarantee (vårdgarantin) stipulates the waiting times in the healthcare system, so you can get an appointment for examination and treatment within a certain period. Contact your county council/regional authority for precise information about waiting times.

Dental care in Sweden

Dental care in Sweden is run by the county councils/regional health authorities via the Swedish Dental Service (Folktandvården) or via private dentists. You can read more about dental care in Sweden on the website 1177.se.

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