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Tuesday's papers: Healthcare backlog, local election poll and mask collecting jogger

Papers report about surgery queues doubling in the Helsinki region and a woman who does her part to clean the streets.

maski maassa Rovaniemen Prisman edessä
Discarded face masks are a feature of the Finnish landscape. Image: Annu Passoja / Yle

The backlog of healthcare issues left neglected during the Covid pandemic is raised once again in Helsingin Sanomat.

Officials at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs say that queues for hip, cataract and knee surgery have all grown since the pandemic began occupying medical staff last year.

There are now some 3,000 patients in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district who have waited longer than six months for surgery. That compares to a figure of 1,230 patients from before the Covid pandemic struck.

That does not tell the whole story, as referrals from general practitioners have come at a slower rate than before the pandemic. That suggests that some people are not seeking help for their problems.

In addition, there is likely to be a substantial need for help with mental health, substance abuse and chronic illness problems that have been neglected over the last year.

There are two main reasons for that. The first is the number of health centres that have been converted to Covid testing and contact tracing operations, which has constricted the availability of appointments.

The second is people's own behaviour. A lot of people have delayed seeking help so as not to bother doctors and nurses while they have a pandemic to tackle.

HS quotes the head of HUS psychiatry services Jesper Ekelund as saying that he's concerned about young people who have seen little of their friends in recent months.

That's a problem, he says, that will have an impact in 2.5-3 years.

Survey: Local poll not a referendum

The Uutissuomalainen newspaper group has a poll that suggests a majority don't see the upcoming local elections as a referendum on whether the government can continue in office.

Some 61 percent of respondents said the election result should not be linked to the Marin government's survival, with 19 percent of the opposite opinion and 20 percent on the fence.

The Finns party has frequently linked continuation of the government's term in office with the local elections, which are due to take place on 13 June.

The theory is that a poor performance from the Centre Party could tempt the party to collapse the government to try and recover lost support.

Centre party support is under pressure from the Finns Party in many rural areas.

We'll be covering the issues leading up to the elections on 13 June in our All Points North podcast. You can hear the latest episode on this embedded player, via Yle Areena, on Spotify or via your favoured podcast provider.

Story continues after audio

Mask collecting in Nurmijärvi

Ilta-Sanomat reports on a runner from Nurmijärvi who has managed to collect some 4,000 face masks discarded during the pandemic.

Last August Kaisu Paulanto had noticed an accumulation of the face coverings on the ground during her runs through central Uusimaa, and decided a while ago that it would make sense to pick them up.

So now she dons gloves, shoves the respiratory protectors into a plastic bag and then deposits them in the bin.

She's kept count over the last six months, and it seems like she's gathered some 4,000 masks chucked away by Nurmijärvi's careless litterbugs.

THL advises people to put used face masks in the bin without touching the outside surfaces, and to wash hands before and after mask removal.

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