‘We obviously need an easy-to-use management system that guarantees high quality for all patients regardless of gender,’ says Håkan Bjartell, doctor at Landstingshälsan i Värmland.
‘Landstingshälsan serves as a pilot project for a gender-mainstreamed management system for sick-listings in Värmland County.’
The system entails that aims and routines in eight areas are to be addressed via standardised forms and processes – from work capacity discussions to alcohol use assessments.
Gendered statistics – a matter of quality
‘This is a powerful way to ensure a high quality of our services. It largely eliminates the risk of treating male and female patients based on preconceptions and stereotypes. We have put on the “gender glasses” in the work with the management system – it is of fundamental importance to have statistics that are gendered and that are followed up.’ Bjartell emphasises that it is important that gender equality is a management issue in order for it to permeate the entire organisation. It is at least as important to involve the personnel in the process in order to make it successful.
‘As a result of this, we now ask in the patient surveys whether the patients believe they would be treated differently had they been of a different gender.’
As a first step, the staff jointly conducted a process assessment by describing the flows in the sick-listing process. The identified risks included the fact that all nurses were women and all doctors men, which raised the possibility that this could lead to gender-unequal patient assessments. Routine-like assessments without sufficient knowledge about gender was another risk factor.
‘You can say that we have created a shared value system, because there is definitely a new type of awareness among the staff. As a result of this, we now ask in the patient surveys whether the patients believe they would be treated differently had they been of a different gender.’
The gender perspective did not always come easy.
‘Initially, some people signalled that gender equality work wasn’t their business. Everything is going well now, though. It used to be a rarely discussed issue, but now you hear it all the time in the break room and at the workplace meetings.’
Part of the preventive work
The efforts also go hand in hand with the ambition to work preventively rather than having to respond to situations that come up, which makes it more important to do it right from the beginning. This approach has led to a reduction in sick-listings to 3-4 per cent among the county’s own staff.
‘We’re looking forward – this approach should be introduced in all areas and the next step is a gender-mainstreamed management system for the entire organisation.’
When asked what Landstingshälsan would have done differently had they done the project all over again, Håkan Bjartell has to think for a minute.
‘We would probably have done a more thorough review of definitions. And we would have gathered even more knowledge. But if we instead focus on what we have gained, it is that the same way of thinking can be transferred to a large number of other areas. We’re looking forward – this approach should be introduced in all areas and the next step is a gender-mainstreamed management system for the entire organisation.’