According to the Swedish Health and Medical Services Act, county councils are obliged to cooperate in regional and highly specialized care. Patients whose problems and treatment require the collaboration of a number of specialists and more expensive equipment are referred to the university hospital in the region. For example thoracic surgery, radiotherapy and neuro surgery require a larger patient base than is provided by a single county
The highly specialized hospital in the Northern region is Norrland University Hospital in Umeå. The university hospital is affiliated to the medical school within the University of Umeå and is also functioning as a research and teaching hospital. Norrland University Hospital is administered by the County Council of Västerbotten.
The cooperation between the four Northern County Councils is regulated by agreements concerning