In Denmark regions organise health services for their citizens according to regional needs, and the individual region may adjust services within the financial and national regulatory framework, enabling them to ensure the appropriate capacity.

Moreover, the regions may refer patients to treatment abroad. In some cases the referral is subject to the approval of the Danish Health Authority.

This is an illustration of the stakeholders in the Danish healthcare system. It is organised at three levels:

The government – establishes the legal and overall framework for healthcare in Denmark

The regions – led by elected regional councils with 41 members in each – are responsible for delivering hospital services within the financial framework decided by the government

The municipalities – are responsible for primary care in the patients’ own home, rehabilitation, health promotion and disease prevention. The general practitioners also operate at the local level and function as so-called gate-keepers, as people in Denmark have to approach their general practitioner to be referred to hospital or specialist treatment.

The GPs have a very important coordinating function – and coordination is an in-built function of the healthcare system