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Friday's papers: Sote savings stramash, Defence Minister suggests male-only military, and coach under fire as Lions flop

Friday's papers include news of turbulence over healthcare reform, a provocative outburst from a minister, and the Lions' exit from the ice hockey worlds.

Pekka Jormakka, Leijonat
Sad lions Image: Tomi Hänninen

Finland's eternal quest to reform health and social care is reaching the end game this summer, and parliamentary committees are looking over the proposals with an eye on a final vote scheduled for June.

This week Helsingin Sanomat reports that it emerged that the Finance Ministry's expected savings as a result of opening up health care to private providers are zero, a somewhat confusing message given the original goal of the reform was to save some three billion euros on projected future annual spending.

There are some caveats: the government says that the goal of the 'freedom of choice' reform is not to save money but to improve access. It will therefore refocus spending away from specialist treatment towards primary healthcare, preventing problems becoming acute before patients get help.

The Finance Ministry memo outlining these figures suggests that some four billion euros could be saved through the introduction of technology. The reform as a whole will shift responsibility for organising health and social care from Finland's 300+ municipalities to 18 newly-created regional governments, and mandate that patients can choose their health centre from a range of public and private providers.

Men-only army?

Finland's Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö has a provocative savings suggestion: kick out all the women from the military. The outburst, delivered in an interview with the Lännen Media group, comes as the minister grapples with the need to cut from his budget.

It brought a furious reaction on social media, which may not have been unexpected. Finnish men must perform up to a year of military or civilian service, but women serve voluntarily.

The temporary ban on female service proposed by Niinistö would, he estimates save around four million euros. He tells Lännen Media that the security environment has changed and Finland's defence forces must focus on their basic work, rather than cutting back on exercises or other essential functions.

Niinistö also demanded cheaper rent for state-owned facilities or the transfer of some property back to the defence forces, which would save his ministry's budget but probably not affect the state's bottom line.

Lions lose out

Finland's men's ice hockey team always has the capacity to delight or infuriate the nation, and this week it's the latter. Despite winning their group in Denmark, the World Championship squad lost 3-2 to Switzerland on Thursday evening and crashed out of the annual spring celebration of international hockey.

Coach Lauri Marjamäki bore the brunt of the criticism, with Ilta-Sanomat describing his 2016-18 reign as a 'total fiasco' and saying he's the worst Lions coach in history. The last coach to take charge of the team and fail to secure a single bronze medal was, says IS, Raimo Korpi in the mid-1980s.

Back then however the Lions were seeking their first ever medal--now that's the minimum expectation. The problem for Finland, according to IS, was that Marjamäki never really won the trust of the Finnish NHL players in the same way as his predecessor Jukka Jalonen.

Edited 3:32 pm May 18,2018: The headline of this press review was edited to reflect that the defence minister called for the removal of females from the military, not from conscription.

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