'The Senja Doctor': developing joint GP services among rural communities in Northern Norway

Rural Remote Health. 2015 Jul-Sep;15(3):3101. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


Senja, the second largest island in Norway, encompasses four municipalities. For decades the island has faced serious challenges concerning recruiting and retaining general practitioners (GPs). In 2001 the county medical officer suggested a plan for improvement of GP service based on inter-municipal collaboration. The plan was rejected by the three small and remote municipalities of Senja. In 2007, after further deterioration of the situation, one of the small municipalities initiated a process to establish a joint service. This was very similar to the one previously proposed by the county medical officer. Within the next few years all the municipalities gradually announced their interest in the development of Senjalegen - the Senja Doctor - an inter-municipal GP service. This has resulted in improved continuity of GP care to the population of Senja. In this article we present experiences and discuss effects of creating a robust professional environment securing support and guidance of young doctors. The importance of local involvement and ownership during development of a joint healthcare service is also discussed.

Keywords: Community Participation; Europe; General/Family Practice; Health Service reform; Postgraduate; Workforce.

MeSH terms

  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • General Practice / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Norway
  • Partnership Practice*
  • Preceptorship
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Rural Population*
  • Staff Development