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Government parties present social and healthcare services reform

The government parties have reached an agreement on reform of social and healthcare services. The deal is a key element of the government's plans for municipal reform.

operating theatre.
Image: Yle

In the new plan, the current hospital districts will be abolished, and the current three-level model will be streamlined into a two-level one.

According to Minister of Health and Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson, the new system is less complicated than the old one. The Minister named the abolition of hospital districts as the greatest change.

In the new model, specialist healthcare will be handled by university hospital districts, while more basic healthcare services will be provided by local authorities -- either alone or in partnership with neighbouring municipalities.

Charged with looking after both specialist and basic healthcare, municipalities are to shoulder most responsibility in the new model.  Minister of Social Affairs and Health Paula Risikko said that university hospital based districts would continue to coordinate more demanding care.

Risikko notes that in the present system, specialist hospital care gulps up two thirds of healthcare funding. The Minister states that one of the goals of the new system is to strengthen basic healthcare.

Mixed responses

The social and healthcare reform was discussed in Parliament on Thursday. The opposition Centre Party was heavily critical of the reform, claiming it would result in greater inequality in citizens’ access to healthcare. MP Aila Paloniemi even went as far as calling it a “dark day” for Finnish healthcare.

Minister Guzenina-Richardson defended the new two-level model, saying it would help to reduce the “terrible” bureaucracy of the three-level model.

Outside the parliament, the Finnish Medical Association's manager Heikki Pälve was worried that the reform would adversely impact basic health services, as the old hospital districts now to be abolished have worked fairly well. In the view of Marina Erhola, the head of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the proposed new model will not fix the problems in basic healthcare



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