Healthcare Reform – Ongoing but in Better Shape

At a press conference this week in Helsinki the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (Soc.Dem.) and the minister’s two top civil servants Ms. Kirsi Varhila and Mr. Pasi Pohjola, set out the renewed government’s plan for the social- and healthcare reform that has been in the making for over 10 years now. The last three governments have all failed to finalise the reform which aims at removing the social- and healthcare system from the unreformed municipal sector to a new part of government, the new counties, the purse stings of which will be controlled directly by the Ministry of Finance. The basic idea of the reform is to reduce duplicated investments, improve productivity with new digital platforms, and introduce preventive care for Finland’s fast ageing population. Various estimates have been made about cost savings – originally €3 billion over 10 years, but nobody appears to be standing behind this figure any more. 

The present objectives will probably be implemented in 18 counties and 5 other units that are located in the metropolitan area.

What has been done starting in August 2019:

  1. Planning has been restarted with the first decision about breaking up the metropolitan area into a few smaller units. In 2020 a national plan is being reviewed with each region this spring. The government decided to award €190 million in grants for this planning process.
  2. University and big central hospitals will be centralised as the main places for demanding complex operations.
  3. Structural reforms will result in hardship for the municipal sector and these will be compensated by the government
  4. Social and healthcare will be improved without long queues including ensuring that opening times are stretched to evenings and weekends. 
  5. The government wants a better and more effective use of social and healthcare professionals by improving job allocations, preventative medicine and getting more resources.
  6. The government is considering giving the new counties the right to raise taxes as well as simplifying public funding

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