Leader, Free Word | 223 days since the bomb went off – what really happened?

Leader, Free Word | 223 days since the bomb went off – what really happened?
Leader, Free Word | 223 days since the bomb went off – what really happened?

Manager This is a leader. The editor expresses the newspaper’s position.

On 24 August last year, municipal director Roar Vevelstad detonated a financial bomb from the podium in the municipal council in Halden. He said that the municipality was facing a deficit of NOK 85-90 million.

Expenditure in the health sector had run rampant.

It has been 223 days.

223 days with the opportunity to turn the tide, to initiate measures, to understand what has gone wrong and to learn from it.

What really happened during these 223 days?

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Unfortunately, the answer turns out to be: almost nothing.

The start of 2024 is pitch black.

The health sector is not close to sticking to the budget. They are likely to spend 26 million more than budgeted in 2024, if they continue as in January.

At the end of 2023, the municipality had a pleasant NOK 230 million in the savings account, in the so-called disposal fund.

23 million in itself is not a dramatic reduction of that account.

The only problem is that already during 2023 we reduced the savings account from NOK 274 million to NOK 230. And that the adopted budget for 2024 entails a new cut of NOK 86 million in the savings account.

You don’t need to be strong in mathematics to understand that at that rate we have very quickly emptied the savings account and, if so, are in danger of falling directly under state control again, as we did in 2012.

Especially if the municipality’s administration is unable to follow the adopted budget.

Finance manager Pål Granholmen in the municipality summed it up well when he was asked by HA about the February forecast:

– There really isn’t a big difference between January and February, he said.

In other words: The health sector is at a standstill.

The millions continue to flow out, while the administration and the political position seem to be groping blindly.

223 days have passed since Vevelstad told that the health sector in Halden municipality was seriously off course.

Attempts to right the ship have so far been unsuccessful.

In October, health director Veronica Aam left the helm. The crew on the ship is otherwise the same. With one exception, Siv Katrin Ramskjell.

The municipality has hired the consultant as a lifeguard. With the expectation of cleaning things up, speeding things up and reducing the deficit. It costs Halden municipality NOK 13,000 every day.

But where does the consulting effect become?

We have not seen it. And it is not possible to find it again in the papers and figures presented to the politicians.

There is talk of processes and that things take time, but from what HA has experienced, there is much to suggest that it is difficult to get the crew on the big ship that is the health sector in Halden municipality to agree on a new course.

It is 223 days since municipal director Roar Vevelstad and finance manager Pål Granholmen shouted out that the ship is heading into an iceberg. Several solutions to steer away from the iceberg have been put on the table, but they are delayed and the course is not only the same 223 days later, but even more straight into the iceberg than the budget for 2024 took into account.

Why is the director of the municipality unable to get the health sector in the municipality to agree that the course must be adjusted?

Do they feel that the budget framework is already too tight? That the measures proposed or adopted are too difficult? In the media, only the municipality’s top management speaks out, so what the unit managers within the health sector think the public knows little about.

But we can read something from the adopted measures and lists of proposals. It is clear that measures are pushed forward and that there is a lack of action.

Idea lists with savings measures such as:

* More training for managers in systems and finance

* Review of vacant leases and maximize utilization of buildings/housing

* Better purchasing agreements

* Assess the organization of home nursing care

. . . should have been signed out long ago.

223 days have passed without it being shown that much more than previous decisions have not even been implemented.

A little while ago, group leader Håvard Tafjord in Høyre stated that all leaders in an organization such as the municipality must think through whether they want to be a leader.

– You have to deal with the requirements, expectations and budget that have been given, he said.

It was heavy duty. And a statement he obviously didn’t pull out of thin air.

In political meetings a few days later, Høyre’s main collaboration partner, the Labor Party, was very keen to point out that AP has confidence in the administration.

The responsibility for the municipality being able to fulfill the budget that the politicians adopt is the responsibility of municipal director Roar Vevelstad.

If leaders in the health sector under him lack the ability or willingness to implement measures, as Høyres Tafjord clearly signaled with his statements, then it is also Vevelstad’s responsibility.

HA has followed the municipal director’s leadership in Halden for several years now. We perceive that he is a wise and patient leader with a trust-based leadership style.

Perhaps Vevelstad also now has to adjust its own course a little.

As the iceberg gets closer and closer, it may be time to do more than stand in the background and calmly inform the crew about what is about to happen.

Vevelstad is completely dependent on the politicians’ trust. As far as HA knows, he is safe for now. But he has little time to show action.

Before the savings account is completely empty. Again.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Leader Free Word days bomb happened


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