OSLO, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- More than 700 surgeries in Norway have been postponed due to a hospital strike that entered the fourth week, newspaper Aftenposten reported on Thursday.
A total of 595 hospital employees from 15 Norwegian hospitals stopped working in a protest that has impact on thousands of patients.
Two of the hospitals reported that even children are among the patients that wait for treatment.
The heart of the conflict between trade union Akademikerne and employer association Spekter is the organization of working hours.
"The hospitals make a very good effort to limit the consequences for the patients as much as possible, but nothing could have been better than success in stopping the strike," Spekter's director Anne-Kari Bratten told Aftenposten.
On Tuesday, two more hospitals joined the strike -- Sykehus Innlandet and Helse More and Romsdal.
Norway's biggest health trust HF told Aftenposten that in the beginning of the week, they have "been forced to postpone 764 surgeries."
The patients had to be rejected and the people that had waited for a long time to be admitted would have to wait even longer.
According to the hospitals, this refers only to the planned surgeries. Cancer patients, emergency care and children should basically not be affected by the strike.
"We deeply regret that the talks with Akademikerne did not succeed, despite the fact that Spekter has offered a number of measures to meet them," Bratten said after unsuccessful negotiations on Tuesday.
Akademikerne, on the other side, has expressed surprise that the employers rejected a solution that it thinks is good both for the hospitals, employees and patients.
"Spekter ignores the message from an overall employee side that working hours beyond the limits of the Working Environment Act should be based on a collective system," Rune Froyland, Akademikerne's chief negotiator, told Aftenposten.
Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Hoie expressed his hope that a quick solution will be achieved and the fewest possible number of patients will be affected.
"However, strike is a legal mean between parties in business and the Ministry of Health and Care does not have an employer role in the hospitals," he told Aftenposten.