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Keskisuomalainen: Family doctor system dying out

Initially developed in the late 1980s, the scheme whereby patients have their own personal doctor is disappearing. Though it still exists in some small municipalities in Finland, it has largely been the victim of rapid urbanisation and a shortage of doctors.

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According to the Finnish Medical Association, the family doctor scheme is only used by one-sixth of public health care centre doctors these days.

Developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the programme was based on the idea that one doctor had a defined area and group of patients as his or her responsibility. 

The advantage was that the doctor and patient knew each other, which is thought to have increased the quality of care and its efficiency. The programme's so-called golden age was during the early 2000s when it was in practice throughout much of the country.

Only a few small municipalities in Finland retain the scheme today, as during the last ten years many larger cities have gradually moved out of the practice because of the challenge of adapting it to large populations and a shortage of doctors.

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