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Clinic and banks experiment with weekend opening hours

A public maternity and child health care clinic in Espoo is the first and only of its kind in Finland to open its doors on Saturdays. Several banks are also experimenting with staying open on weekends.

Terveydenhoitaja Rauni Kortesalmi testasi tänään Ison Omenan neuvolassa, että 5-vuotiaan Lari Muhojoen kuul on normaali.
Rauni Kortesalmi checks Lari Muhojoki’s hearing at the Iso Omena Service Centre. Image: Ghadi Boustani / Yle

The metropolitan city of Espoo opened the Iso Omena Service Centre in August 2016, a large service complex featuring a public health centre, maternity and children’s health clinic, mental health and substance abuse services, a Kela office, youth services and a library, among other things.

The centre is connected to the Iso Omena shopping centre and is primarily intended to serve the residents of Espoo’s Olari and Matinkylä districts.

While it is ground-breaking in many ways, the centre also contains the first public maternity and children’s health clinic in Finland to have extended opening hours. It is open on weekdays from 8 am to 7 pm, and on Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm.

Customers are thrilled with the expanded and convenient opening hours.

"It serves working mums brilliantly, especially pregnant women in their first trimester that may not be ready to announce their news at work. It’s great that you can go to the clinic in the evening or even on Saturdays," says Espoo resident Anne-Mari Sulonen, who is expecting her second child.

Even though the clinic serves local Olari and Matinkylä district inhabitants, the convenience of the location and extended hours has attracted Espoo families from other districts to apply for permission to be transferred there.

"So far 60 customers have transferred to the Iso Omena clinic from other parts of Espoo, although there is a bit of migration in other directions, too," says Espoo’s unit director Heidi Långström-Karhapää.

Espoo has responded to the increase in demand at the Iso Omena clinic by moving more health care professionals to work there.

Customers with a municipality of residence in Finland can apply to change their service location by submitting a written notice. Patients can only change health centres once a year at most, however.

Banks are giving it a go, too

Two of Finland’s most significant chains of banks have also introduced weekend opening hours: Nordea and Danske Bank.

Nordea makes it possible for its customers to come in for pre-arranged Saturday appointments to discuss housing loans or investments, for example, in 12 locations in southern and central Finland.

Päivi Salo visited Nordea’s location in the Itis shopping centre last Saturday, along with 30 other customers.

"This suits me well. I don’t have to think about when I’ll have time to go to the bank at work," she says, adding that she travels often on business trips, which makes scheduling such things even harder.

Nordea had already experimented with Saturday opening hours for a year, and made it a permanent part of its operations in December 2016. A local collective agreement in the financial sector offered the option of weekend work to the employees on a volunteer basis.

Danske Bank also offers services on Saturday, but only online and by phone. Aktia Bank will try keeping its downtown office near Stockmann open on Saturdays, too. OP Bank and Handelsbanken also say they are open to the idea.

Moving towards 24/7

Retail stop hours were liberalised as of 1 January 2016, after decades of strict regulation. The larger chains report that business was up last year due to the change.

The alcohol retailer monopoly Alko has also announced that it would like to stay open longer in future. The proposal is part of a bill draft on a full reform of the Alcohol Act that is waiting to be heard in Parliament.

The national postal carrier Posti also extended opening hours in its service locations in early 2016.

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