Finland seems to be making a habit of government crises, and this week is shaping up to be the start of another one. At issue is the proposed reform of health and social care (known as 'Sote', its Finnish acronym) that will bring in private providers and transfer responsibility from municipalities to 18 new regional governments. Except there are constitutional issues with the private provision aspects of the reform, and if that is delayed the National Coalition Party is keen to delay the regional government side of things.
Parliament's constitutional law committee is due to offer an opinion on the matter on Friday, and politicians were on Monday trading barbs over the plans. Ilta-Sanomat's comment piece on Tuesday outlines the state of play as things stand.
Expert opinion and a broad consensus in parliament holds that expanded private provision will, according to IS, increase inequality in healthcare and fail to meet the cost saving goals set for the 'Sote' reform. If that is dropped, though, the National Coalition has said it will not allow the regional government plan to proceed.
IS points out that the NCP might prefer to hold new elections and then try to form a government as the largest party in parliament, given that it is riding high in the polls right now. Such a move would be ironic given the convulsions the third government party Blue Reform has gone through to prevent the government collapsing--19 MPs now sit as a breakaway group in parliament, having left the Finns Party in order to prop up the Juha Sipilä government.
Home care in crisis?
Helsingin Sanomat's lead story is an investigation into home care in Finland. The paper has found that more and more people are being cared for in their own homes, but the number of staff has not increased. Although the percentage of over-75s using home care services has not increased, longer life spans mean that the absolute number has jumped markedly as increasing numbers of people in poor health and of advanced years live out their lives at home rather than in a care facility.
The Institute of Health and Welfare calculates that it has declined, but that's disputed by municipalities who say they buy a lot of services from external providers that don't show up in the statistics.
The trend, however, is towards lower standards in care with nurses not given enough time to perform their duties. Sheets might go unchanged, an aspect of the care routine might go undone, and staff turnover can prevent caregivers building a rapport with their patients and gaining a deeper understanding of their needs.
Union officials interviewed by HS say that employers now track their nurses down to the second, and that kind of time-tracking does not allow for the personalised care that employees want to provide. The profession is also losing people, with long hours and stress causing ever-longer sick leaves.
Estonian booze tax
IS also has important news for those planning a trip to stock up on summer booze: changing prices south of the Gulf of Finland. Estonia is hiking booze taxes from Saturday, and IS has the scoop on exactly how much 96 cans of industrial lager will cost day trippers in future.
A crate of Karhu, one of the big Finnish beer brands, can be obtained today for 12.99 euros at the cheapest Tallinn retailers. That jumps to 16.21 euros on Saturday, with staggered increases planned up to 2020 when the same 24 cans will cost some 19.51 euros.
That's a huge jump, and the effects could include more Finns travelling to Latvia to buy their alcohol. IS also asked the Taxpayers' association in Finland about the issue, and they suggested Finland might now have room to raise alcohol taxes once again.
Every newspaper covers the elevation of hockey legend Teemu Selänne to the NHL Hall of Fame. The news was announced late on Monday, Finnish time, adding the 46-year-old to the pantheon of hockey greats.
Only one other Finn--Jari Kurri--is in the Hall of Fame.
"This is the biggest possible honour that a hockey player can receive and a wonderful way to end my career," Selänne told STT. Selänne played 21 seasons in the NHL, scoring 684 goals and winning the Stanley Cup once, in 2007.