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Monday's papers: Suspicious deaths in elder care, Green threshold, skin cancer rates on the rise

Supervisory authorities are looking into dozens of deaths at both public and private elder care facilities, according to Monday’s newspaper press.

Tyhjä sairaalasänky vanhusten palvelutalossa.
Image: Malin Valtonen / Yle

Kuopio’s Savon Sanomat was among the papers Monday that reported that the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, Valvira, is currently looking at the deaths of some 60 people in elder care facilities which may have been caused by malpractice or severe neglect.

The paper says that all of the deaths in question occurred in 2017-2019. About half of them, this year. The complaints being investigated concern both public and privately-operated facilities.

According to Valvira Chief Inspector Elina Uusitalo, recent media reports on the state of elder care have sparked an increased number of complaints from the public.

Although problems in the sector have received media coverage for years, they have come under increasingly intense scrutiny after revelations of widespread neglect and lack of staff at the Esperi Care chain of elder care homes came to light earlier this year.

Green threshold

Most papers, including the Tampere-based Aamulehti, note that on Sunday, the Green League issued a policy statement on the conditions under which it would be willing to join a new coalition government.

According to party chair Pekka Haavisto, the Greens are ready to enter a government if its programme is “sufficiently ambitious” in terms of policy on the climate, environment, education, and battling poverty, as well as on human rights and advancing Finland’s international position. He said that this will require focus especially on education at all levels and reducing poverty.

He further stated that the Greens will not join a government that takes a negative attitude toward Finland’s membership in the EU and the eurozone, that promotes closing the nation’s borders, distances Finland from international cooperation, does not improve the position of minorities in Finland or takes a negative stand on human rights.

Haavisto said that his party’s goal is to create a “sustainable development” government which carries responsibility both domestically and internationally.

Identity crisis in the Centre

Turku’s Turun Sanomat writes that the largest loser in the recent elections, the Centre Party, has been left behind in the development of identity politics, and doesn’t really know what it wants.

Reporting on a Sunday Centre Party seminar in Riihimäki, Turun Sanomat quotes outgoing PM and Centre chair Juha Sipilä as saying that the Centre’s moderate positions on climate change and immigration got squeezed out by more extreme views on both ends of the spectrum.

The paper writes that the average Finns Party or Green voter is better able to see where those parties stand on these issues. For the Centre, being somewhere in the middle is not enough. No one really knows what it means in practice when saying that the Centre could be a bridge builder between extreme positions.

Silja Silvasti, an expert participant in Sunday’s seminar stated that a Centre Party identity cannot be that someone lives in the countryside, has two diesel cars in the garage and vacations twice a year in Spain.

“By promising people that they can continue doing what they’ve done up until now, we’d be lying and not moving this country forward,” she told the paper.

Rising skin cancer rates

Finland’s largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat reports that there has been a sharp rise in skin cancer rates in Finland over the past few years.

The paper says that skin cancer rates showed a slow steady increase during the start of this decade, then a sharp upward turn beginning in 2015. In 2014, 3,000 cases were reported in the country. In 2015, that figure jumped to 3,824.

Most skin cancers are diagnosed among middle-aged and older people. These age groups are now starting to include large numbers of people who are part of the first generation to have spent beach holidays abroad.

Sunburn is a significant risk factor. According to a survey by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, sunburns are rather common. More than a fifth of the 1000 Finns asked in its study said that they had had a sunburn within the past five years. For most it had happened only once, but some reported multiple sunburns.

The study also found that the most active travelers to sunny destinations are also the most active in protecting their children against excessive exposure to the sun.

May Day weather

It looks unlikely that May Day picnics will get rained out this week, according to the freesheet Metro.

According to a report in its Monday edition, holiday weather in most of the country should be partly sunny and mostly dry, but chilly enough that one will need to dress more warmly than last week.

The exceptions are in the north, in Lapland, the area around Oulu and in Kainuu where there is a chance on showers on 1 May.

Metro also cautions May Day revelers to be careful with open fires. Dry conditions mean that grass and forest fire warnings are in effect over about half the country, in eastern, western and central regions.

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