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Ministries deem cross-municipal health centre unlawful

The small municipality of Siikalatva in Northern Ostrobothnia aims to establish a municipal health clinic on the premises of a private Oulu health centre. The move would be unlawful, ministries say.

Sairaala Mehiläinen Helsingissä.
Oulu says it will not pay for Siikalatva's health services. Image: Satu Kaarnakangas / AOP

The small Northern Ostrobothnian municipality of Siikalatva has decided to establish a public health care centre in conjunction with the private Mehiläinen centre in neighbouring Oulu – a move which government ministries say is against current legislation.

The new health centre is intended to benefit inter-city commuters in the region. The municipality of Siikalatva decided it would bill the city of Oulu for the locals' use of the joint centre.

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said in a release on Saturday that the law does not allow for a municipality to set up a public health centre outside its own borders.

Furthermore, the city of Oulu said on Friday that it does not condone the agreement between Siikalatva and Mehiläinen, and will contest the establishment of the health centre.

Not expressly forbidden

The two ministries both write that "a municipality may not establish a centre for public health services or a branch thereof outside its own borders, unless it is part of an official cross-municipal agreement (such as could be arranged between Siikalatva and the city of Oulu) or especially justified in terms of the residents' needs."

The release further states that the municipal decision lacks a basis in necessity, as the proposal does not indicate how many Siikalatva residents would actually be in need of Oulu-based services.

Despite the plans being deemed unlawful, the government itself may not push to change the municipality's arrangement. Ministries will next investigate whether the Health Care Act could be altered to expressly prohibit cross-municipal programmes of all kinds.

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