Finland has one of Europe’s best healthcare systems in terms of cost and quality. It covers the whole country and is split up between basic universal occupational healthcare for people with jobs, and universal public healthcare for the young and elderly and for all when things get serious and specialised hospital treatment is necessary,
However, the last 2 governments here have tried their best to blast a big hole in the side of this system by introducing private healthcare providers for basic healthcare.
That has been part of the neoliberal policies followed by these two right-wing governments. Not only did they privatise but they also desperately tried to create a monolithic system of health care using the big consultants and the private companies as the guiding light. The result has been that healthcare resources have moved to the private sector at a higher cost and the basic public healthcare has been drained of doctors and other healthcare professionals. The result has been the basic healthcare has seen longer queues and more patients have ended up in hospitals because preventive care was not made available in time.
The newMinister of Health, Ms. Krista Kiuru, and her senior civil servants have now produced a fundamentally changed health care program this week.
The policy has several clear objectives which will be implemented by the public sector over the course of the next three years:
- Doctors and other healthcare resources will be available throughout the whole country and there will be a seven day guarantee of appropriate care for all. The government plans to employ 1000 new doctors for basic healthcare, as well as increasing the number of other Health care workers needed to support the work of these doctors.
- The emphasis will be placed on preventive healthcare, thus reducing the need for maintaining the present huge resources that we currently see with specialised hospital healthcare. The government believes that this excess of hospitalisation resources can be moved to the basic healthcare system because improved basic health care will stop serious health problems developing at an earlier stage.
- They plan improvements in the coordination and quality of care which should result in better impact in reducing health care costs of the whole population.
- The result of the above objectives should lead to cost savings which may reduce the expected increasing costs do to our ageing population.
The minister mentioned that the public sector will receive almost €100 million each year until 2023 for funding these programs.
At the same time, the government is planning new legislation for new counties as well as looking at allowing the new counties to have right to tax citizens. This new legislation is however secondary to the above objectives.
It appears to be quite clear that this new government is now applying a common sense approach to reforming our healthcare system.
Improving preventive health care in a radical way, and reducing the need for hospitalisation is simply the application of this common sense that past governments have failed to understand.
The program announced today is a major step forward in the development of basic services for health care in Finland.