When doctors and healthcare workers can earn much more in private healthcare jobs then they will leave the public sector. Thousands of patients and their families are then forced to travel long distances for treatments and surgery. Hospital premises are then closed, and doctors and healthcare staff, not only patients, waste time going to more distant hospitals.
The city of Kouvola is some 130 kilometres from Helsinki. They have a public healthcare body called “Carea” that cannot find any doctors to staff its hospital just 8 kilometres away from the city centre in Kuusankoski. The smart politicians in Kouvola never got round to building a hospital in the centre of town where most of the 85 000 people live! Kuusankoski got the hospital because there has always been a place for the big paper mills.
The city fathers made another smart decision by joining up with the city of Kotka, another small city, some 60 kilometres south from Kouvola. It is a harbour town right on the Baltic sea. They have their own hospital even though they only have a population of 53 000 people.
Now patients from Kouvola must take a car, bus, taxi or ambulance 60 kilometres to the hospital in Kotka if they have anything more serious than flu!
The crazy thing is that during the first 2 months of this year over 10 00 patients have had to travel all the way to Kotka for treatment and surgery just because doctors are not applying for work in Carea’s hospital in Kuusankoski! Of course you can always see a local private doctor and pay private fees of some €80 to €100 each time!
The crazy story does not stop here – the Conservative Party has been pushing hard for allowing private healthcare companies to provide public healthcare services. They are the one who have been nurturing the explosion of private healthcare companies. These companies have even employed Conservative politicians to help them find new ways to exploit the SOTE healthcare reform. One media company has been particularly active and they are called Ellun Kanat (in English Ellu’s Chickens). This company has now been employed to help Carea find doctors by improving their image on the market!
So we have a healthcare reform that spawns private healthcare companies that attract public sector doctors by offering higher salaries, and maybe less administrative work, and that in turn causes a severe shortage of public sector doctors leading to hospital closures and patients having to travel long distances for treatment…
… and then a public sector healthcare provider like Carea, instead of offering more money to doctors they urgently need, employs a bunch of media executives to polish their image to attract staff!
The population of Kouvola have reason to be angry, and this is probably just the tip of the iceberg with many other small cities seeing the same. This healthcare reform is a disaster for many even before its has officially started!