Who does what in the Swedish National Healthcare services

Swedish health and medical care is divided into three categories: primary care, specialist care and highly specialised care. The Swedish dental care system abides by slightly different rules. Here you can read more about the different types of health, medical and dental care.

Primary care

In Sweden, the basic health and medical care is generally referred to as primary care. The full definition of primary care can be found in the terminology database of the National Board of Health and Welfare.

The primary care services are comprised of general medical practitioners offering medical examinations, care and treatment of most common conditions and illnesses. However, if necessary, your doctor will refer you to another medical specialist such as a surgeon or orthopaedic. In addition, health and medical care is offered by specialist nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and dentists.

Specialised care

Specialised care is care that requires more specialised medical measures than what is available through primary care. You do not need to have referral from the primary care before you contact the specialist care. However, the absence of a referral from your doctor may result in a higher cost and longer waiting time.

Highly specialised care at certain hospitals

The highly specialised care offered in Sweden is referred to as National Specialised Medical Care. In order to maintain the highest quality of care and best use of resources available, only one or two hospitals in Sweden are authorised to provide highly specialised care. The National Board of Health and Welfare determines what type of care is considered highly specialised and in which county such highly specialised care should be offered.

Find out more about the highly specialised care and at which hospitals such care is provided: National Specialised Medical Care.

Dental care

Unlike the rest of the Swedish National Healthcare Services, the dental care is not divided into primary and specialised care and is provided by general dental practitioners. Specialist dental care under the National Healthcare Services requires a referral from your dentist. However, if you are registered with a private dental practice then no referral is required and you can contact the dental specialist directly. The national dental care services comprise dental practitioners and dental hygienists.


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