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Government dishes out cash in bid to ease healthcare waiting times

Finland is putting more cash into municipal health and social care in a bid to speed up service and hire more doctors.

Krista Kiuru
Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Journal Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Finland is planning to plough some 200 million euros into municipal healthcare services in the next four years to try and reduce waiting times for non-urgent appointments.

In 2020 an initial 70 million euros will be available as part of the new government’s drive for reform of health and social care reform, as stated by the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru.

"Now is the time for the money to flow to grassroots level," said Kiueru at a press conference on Tuesday. "If we don’t hire the doctors we need to attract, then how can it be done?"

There are currently some 300 vacancies for doctors at health centres across the country, and the government has vowed to hire an additional 1,000 doctors by 2023.

The money is to be directed at local health centres, rather than specialist care units, as the government aims to get the waiting time for non-urgent doctor’s appointments below seven days.

At present some 43 percent of health centres achieve that.

The current government is planning to present a far-reaching reform of social and healthcare services later in the parliamentary term, to replace the failed package of reforms piloted by the previous government.

The new measures will be based on transferring responsibility for the services from Finland's 300+ municipalities to 19 new regional bodies, in an effort to streamline the bureaucracy and reduce costs.

This represents a move away from the previous government's effort to drive forward 'choice' agenda, which in practice would have drastically increased private sector involvement in healthcare provision.

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