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Finland launches new health and social care reform drive

The long-running 'Sote' reform will be considered by parliament. 

Sote-tiedotustilaisuus.
Ministers announced the proposed new arrangements in Helsinki. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Finland wants to transfer responsibility for organising social and healthcare services from 310 municipalities to 21 regional authorities and the city of Helsinki, the government announced on Tuesday.

The move will consolidate responsibility for these services from the current municipal level into a new regional tier of administration, in an effort to cut costs and streamline services.

Announcing the change after a consultation round that drew some 800 responses from interested parties, minister for Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) explained that the proposed new system resolved two controversial issues.

The East Savo hospital district will be merged with the South Savo district, and a hospital in Kemi, northern Finland, will be retained until at least 2032.

To fund the changes, the government will legislate for a new regional tax to be levied by 2026.

In addition, the new laws will limit the role private firms can play in decisions around social and healthcare, an outcome that was welcomed by Education Minister Li Anderssion (Left).

Ministers had announced last Friday that they'd reached a deal, but had to get approval from each government party's MPs before announcing the details of the plan.

On Tuesday the chair of the Centre Party's parliamentary group Antti Kurvinen said on Twitter that the group had accepted the package of measures even though they were 'not perfect'.

The package of laws outlining the new arrangements will go to parliament in December.

The last government's package of 'sote' reforms was bogged down in the constitutional law committee and the health committee, which was at the time chaired by Kiuru.

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