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Care homes and hospitals suffer from staff shortage

The nursing sector in Finland is currently experiencing the country's most acute labour shortage.

The city of Kuopio reported 20 percent vacancy rates for this summer's temporary nursing positions. Image: Antti-Petteri Karhunen / Yle

Some care homes and hospital wards across Finland have had to close for the summer as a result of the country’s nursing shortage.

According to an April report (siirryt toiseen palveluun) released by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the nursing sector is experiencing Finland's most severe labour shortage, reporting 3,378 open positions for less than six-month fixed-term contracts.

Nurses’ union SuPer chair Silja Paavola said the situation was so difficult that it raised the question of how many permanent employees would be able to take their summer holidays at all.

According to Tuula Räsänen, a recruitment specialist at the City of Kuopio, permanent employment no longer attracts nurses as it used to, with the city also reporting 20 percent vacancy rates for this summer’s temporary nursing positions.

Räsänen estimated that the share of temporary jobs and staff leasing had increased in the care sector, with people increasingly opting to work when it suited them. This meant summer replacements were often not contracted for the whole summer, Räsänen noted.

Paavola of SuPer added that the summer nursing staff shortage was also due to the reduced attractiveness of the sector because of structural issues that had not been addressed.

"It's not a meaningful job when you have to treat your patients like they are on an assembly line," Paavola said.