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Government publishes policies for customers' freedom of choice

Government Communications Department Ministry of Finance Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Ministry of the Interior 21.12.2016 22.35 | Published in English on 22.12.2016 at 16.22
Press release 571/2016

On 21 December, the Government published a draft of the legislation detailing how customers will be able to select from among the health and social services that are within the scope of freedom of choice. The legislation aims to ensure that freedom of choice will increase the customer's possibilities of exerting influence, speed up access to services as well as improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of services.

Additionally, the Government published changes made to the Health, Social Service and Regional Government bill. The most important acts within the reform are the Countries Act, the Act on Organising Health and Social Services, the Implementation Act and the Act of Financing of the Counties. The legislative package was published now in the spirit of open bill drafting, and the finalised government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament in January. A proposal to expand freedom of choice is also still incomplete. 

The bill on customers' freedom of choice will be circulated for comments in early 2017

According to the bill concerning the customer's freedom of choice, the customer may select a service provider from a more diverse selection than previously. The customer can sign up as a customer of the social and health centre they wish as well as select the dental care unit they prefer. Social and health centres and dental care units will produce services independently or in a networked manner. They could also grant their customers service vouchers for individual services from a service provider selected by the customer. Additionally, the customer may also select the service point that they use for county-produced services, such as a hospital. The service voucher and a personal budget would be in use on the basis of an assessment of service needs by the county, and, based on these, the customer could select a service provider. The bill concerning a customer's freedom of choice will be finalised and translated into Swedish. The bill will then be circulated for comments in early 2017.

A government proposal on the simplification of multisource financing will be drawn up in 2017.

The Health, Social Services and Regional Government Reform will see 18 autonomous counties established in Finland. Beginning on 1 January 2019, the counties will be responsible for public social and health services, rescue services, emergency medical services, environmental health care, as well as the tasks thus far handled by regional councils and regional state administration.

All 18 counties to have their own rescue department

As part of the health and social services solution the government outlined that all 18 counties would organise their own emergency medical services, meaning rescue services will also be organised in each of these counties. This will ensure that rescue departments continue to produce emergency medical care for health care services. In practice, the Government's policy will mean that, in the future, there will be 18 rescue departments. At the same time, central government steering will be strengthened so that the Government approves the national objectives for rescue services and the Ministry of the Interior directly steers rescue services in the 18 counties. The Government will also be able to decide on the centralisation of some special tasks carried out by rescue services so that these are handled by one or more counties. 

The purpose of the Health, Social Services and Regional Government Reform is to up-date services and improve the sustainability of public finances. The reform will establish the prerequisites for Finland's future social and health service model. The new counties will adopt the most effective practices so that produced services have the maximum influence and are cost-effective. The objective is to reduce differences in people's welfare and to mitigate the growth of costs. Services will be integrated according to people's needs so they are customer-oriented. The Government proposal is due to be given to Parliament in early 2017 after it has been circulated for comments and a finalised version has been written.

Materials on both the customer's freedom of choice and the government proposal are available on the regional government reform website.

Materials related to the Rescue service reform can be read on the Ministry of the Interior websiite

Further information:

Tuomas Pöysti, Project Manager, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 2951 63012

Director-General Kirsi Varhila, tel. +358 2951 63338

Director-General Outi Antila, tel. +358 2951 63164

Auli Valli-Lintu, Senior Government Adviser Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 2955 30079

Tarja Hyvönen, Senior Government Adviser, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 2955 30147

Esko Koskinen, Department for Rescue Services: Director-General, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 50 456 0007

Special adviser to the Juha Rehula, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Hanna-Maija Kause, tel. +358 2951 63109

Special adviser to Anu Vehviläinen, Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Sami Miettinen, tel. +358 2955 30057

Special adviser to Paula Risikko, Minister of the Interior Emma Hannonen, p. +358 50 5740736