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SPP leader demands halt to hospital reform

The leader of the opposition Swedish People's Party wants to halt a plan to cut seven of 19 accident and emergency units across the country.

Anna-Maja Henriksson
Anna-Maja Henriksson Image: Yle

Anna-Maja Henriksson, who heads up the opposition Swedish People's Party, says that the government should abort a plan to shut down seven of nineteen accident and emergency departments in Finland. The plan would see a reduction in service levels at Vaasa hospital, which the SPP says would endanger the right of Swedish speakers to service in their own language.

The idea of the reform is to concentrate resources in a smaller number of centres, bringing economies of scale to reduce costs and improve competence through greater specialisation.

Henriksson's intervention comes after four municipalities in southern Lapland outsourced their local hospital to private healthcare firm Mehiläinen on a long term contract that would cost the taxpayer 100 million euros in penalty fees if broken.

The hospital, Länsi Pohja, was slated to be downgraded as part of the hospital streamlining programme. The plan was due to come into force at the start of 2018, and the hospital would pass from the oversight of municipalities to a new regional authority.

"Undeserved chaos"

Henriksson, however, said on Saturday that the plan should be paused. She says that the government has refused to listen to experts on the issue since 2015, when the current plan was firmed up.

"I've always said that there should be a parliamentary working group that decides on this," said Henriksson. "If we don't take a time out here, we'll create bigger chaos than anyone deserves."

The government also plans to transfer responsibility for all public health and social care services from municipalities to 18 newly-created regional governments.

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