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Poll suggests majority believe proposed social and health care reform will weaken service equity

A new representative survey commissioned by a municipal advocate suggests that almost two-thirds of Finnish residents believe the government’s plan to revamp its social and health care services would weaken both equal access to services and equal treatment.

Pääkaupunkiseudulle halutaan perustaa oma sote-toimialue. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

A poll released by the Municipal Development Foundation (KAKS) on July 31 indicates that people living in Finland are largely sceptical that the government’s planned sweeping reform of the social and health care system would guarantee the same level of services that are currently available.

A full 64 percent of respondents said they believed that service equity would deteriorate across the country. 

Two out of five also anticipated that access to services and treatment and service chain functionality will diminish as a result of the shake-up. Less than a third felt the change would increase the amount of services available and improve accessibility.

According to the latest version of the plan, the government intends to transfer the organisation of healthcare and social services and other regional services to 18 ‘counties’ as of 1 January 2019. The objective is to mitigate rising costs and streamline administration and oversight under a single umbrella management.

A draft government proposal outlining the overhaul’s specifics is expected to be completed in August and circulated for consultation.

For or against?

The July poll discovered that, among the 1,000-or-so people questioned, 39 percent nevertheless looked favourably on the plan to consolidate services, while just one-fourth viewed the pending reform package negatively.

Support for the reform is strongest among two of the government’s coalition parties: the National Coalition Party (74 percent) and the Centre Party (69 percent). Only 38 percent of Finns Party adherents polled felt the reform was a good idea, however.

But even this level of support beat the results of leading opposition party Social Democrat supporters, who supplied an only 31 percent approval rating.

Pollster TNS Gallup executed the KAKS-commissioned poll, which reached over 1,000 Finns between the ages of 18 and 75.