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Wednesday's papers: Cash over care, sidewalk injuries and overturned conviction

Esperi Care allegedly prioritised profits over patient care, a rise in weather-related injuries and a young man walks free after a rape conviction is dismissed.

Vanhus hoitokodissa.
Image: AOP

Under-staffing was central to the business model at the Esperi Care chain of elder care homes rather than a problem that management struggled with, daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on Wednesday. Reporter Tiina Rajamäki sat down with two former managers to talk about the firm's practices after reports of widespread negligence at its facilities dominated headlines this week.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity due to non-disclosure agreements they had signed. One ex-manager of a facility in western Finland said that Esperi Care senior management ordered them to systematically reduce nurses' working hours on shift rota by five percent, although the company had pledged to provide 100 percent staffing in its supplier agreement with the local municipality.

Another Esperi Care alumnus who worked in the capital region claimed that in a job interview, ex-CEO Marja Aarnio-Isohanni outlined a number of measures to save on personnel spending. The goal was to first start by cutting costs on cleaning, then on food and finally on elder care. The guidance provided to supervisors was to hire substitutes to allow nurses to work during a two-hour morning peak time, go home, and then return to work for another peak period during the evening.

Moreover, they were encouraged to favour non-Finnish-speaking substitutes since they were less likely than native Finns to be as familiar with labour laws. The former head of the western Finland unit said that as a result, they ended up with "nurses who wouldn't find work elsewhere."

Sidewalk injuries triple

With snowy conditions set to continue into next week, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that the slick, slippery weather is putting more people than usual in hospital with weather-related injuries. Mika Paavola, medical chief of staff at Helsinki's Töölö hospital, said that cases of broken wrists, collar bones and ankles have tripled this winter.

"We have had heavy loads for several weeks. Many people who've slipped and those who've been hurt otherwise have come to the hospital," he told IS. The physician said that there has been a shortage of personnel, especially in operating theatres as well as on wards. At the same time, patients have faced longer queues to see a doctor and get a diagnosis.

He noted that the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, HUS, is currently cooperating with the Finnish Meteorological Institute, FMI, to be better able to prepare for weather-related injuries. Paavola warned pedestrians to exercise care as weather conditions become milder next week.

Rape conviction overturned

Tabloid Iltalehti reports on a case in which an appeal court overturned rape charges against a young Turku man after determining that the defendant and his accuser had been in a relationship and that there was insufficient evidence to convict the 20-year-old charged with the crimes.

Altogether the appeal court dismissed four rape charges and a five-month suspended sentence imposed by the Southern Karelia district court. He was also ordered to pay a total of just over 3,500 euros in costs and damages. The appellate court referenced a precedent case decided by the Supreme Court, which ruled that a victim's "truthful and convincing account also needs to be supported by indirect [independent] evidence to ensure accuracy."

The Eastern Finland appeal court said that it was indisputable that at the time that the alleged deeds had been committed in 2016, the pair had been in a relationship and that they had been intimate. It also described the accounts of both accuser and defendant as credible and for the most part consistent. However the court ruled that there was doubt regarding the defendant's guilt and it dismissed the charges. The 21-year-old man was freed and was also relieved of any obligation to pay costs and damages.

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