Saving life is a top priority of the healthcare system. Under normal circumstances, patients with life-threatening conditions will be given priority over other patients with reference to their higher need.

However, as the ongoing pandemic has shown, there are exceptional situations where, due to lack of ICU beds, personnel and other resources, priorities may have to be made between patients with equally life-threatening conditions. What ethical principles should inform these hard decisions?

The theme for the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics’ Award Winner Seminar 2021 is priority settings in healthcare in pandemics and other situations of mass casualties. The issue will be discussed from both a theoretical and a policy perspective. Experiences and lessons from the pandemic in different European countries will be shared.

The theme for the Seminar has been chosen by professor Torbjörn Tännsjö, winner of the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics’ Award for 2020.

The seminar will be held in English.

The seminar will take place on December 10, 2021 in Stockholm, at Bankhallen, Malmtorgsgatan 3. If you would like to attend in person, please register through the form below.

It will also be possible to attend online through Zoom. Use this link to register.

Preliminary programme

Chair of the morning session: Gustaf Arrhenius, Director of the Institute for Futures Studies, Professor of Practical Philosophy

09:00-09:15 Introduction

09.00-09:05 Welcome

The Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics

09:05-09:15 Why a seminar on priority settings in situations of mass casualties?

Torbjörn Tännsjö, Professor emeritus of Philosophy, Stockholm University, winner of the Swedish National Council of Medical Ethics’ award for 2020

09:15-11:00 What ethical theories tell us?

09:15-10:45 What ethical theories tell us?

Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University
Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek, assistant professor of Philosophy, University of Łódź

10:45-11:00 Comments

Torbjörn Tännsjö, Professor emeritus of Philosophy, Stockholm University

11.00-11.15 Coffee break

11:15-12:30 Swedish perspectives

11.15-11:40 Two additional operative principles for health resource allocation on the institutional and overarching policy levels: primary prevention and sustainability

Christian Munthe, Professor of Practical Philosophy, University of Gothenburg                    

11:40-12:05 Swedish priorities of intensive care during the pandemic – a utilitarian turn or in line with a needs based healthcare?

Lars Sandman, Professor of Health-care Ethics and Director, National Centre for Priorities in Health, Linköping University

12:05-12.30 Should we prioritize health care workers during pandemics?

Niklas Juth, Associate professor of Medical Ethics, Karolinska Institute                             

12:30-13:15 Lunch

Chair of the afternoon session: Nils-Eric Sahlin, Professor of Medical Ethics, Lund University, member of the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics

13:15-14:50 European experiences and lessons

13:15-13:40 Justice and distribution of scarce resources in pandemics (deltar digitalt)

Laura Palazzini, Professor of Philosophy of Law, Biolaw and Bioethics, University of Roma, vice chair the Italian Committee for Bioethics

13:40-14:05 Justice and solidarity in times of pandemic (deltar digitalt)

Alena Buyx, Professor of Ethics of Medicine and Health Technologies at the Technical University of Munich, chair of the German Ethics Council

14:05-14:30 Ethical Considerations underpinning equitable access to scarce healthcare resources in the context of COVID-19

Siobhán O’Sullivan, Prof. Healthcare Ethics and Law, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Chief Bioethics Officer in the Irish Ministry for Health

14:30-14:55 Priority groups for coronavirus vaccination: experiences from Norway

Ole Frithjof Norheim, Professor, Director BCEPS, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority Setting (BCEPS)

14:55-15:15 Coffee break

15:15-16:00 Discussion

Peter Singer
Torbjörn Tännsjö
Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek
Laura Palazzini
Alena Buyx
Siobhan O’Sullivan
Ole Frithjof Norheim

Registration for in person participants