The status and rights of clients and patients

The status and rights of medical patients and clients of social services are protected by:

The laws define the legal principles under which patients and clients of social welfare services must be treated.


Medical patients and clients of social services have the right to appropriate and high-quality service from social and health care services. Options for treatment or measures to be taken must be explained openly and in an understandable manner.

Patients and clients of social services must be treated in a manner that does not infringe on their human dignity, convictions, or privacy.


Those requiring help have the right to get health care services within the time set by legislation.


Documents of social welfare and health care services and the information that they contain must be kept confidential. Patients and clients of social welfare services have the right to know when their information is being used.

Complaints or legal protection for patients and social welfare clients

If a patient or a client of social welfare services is not satisfied with service, care, or treatment that he or she has received, the patient or client can

  • submit a complaint to the person in charge of the operating unit, or
  • file an official complaint with a supervisory official.

In social welfare services the client can also appeal for a change in the decision he or she has received.

In the case of treatment injury the patient can apply for compensation from the Finnish Patient Insurance Centre.

Patients can apply for compensation in the event of patient injuries:

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health does not handle complaints or appeals. They are handled by municipalities, Regional State Administrative Agencies, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), the Parliamentary Ombudsman, and the Chancellor of Justice of the Government.

Patient Ombudsman and Social Ombudsman

If clients feel that they have been treated improperly by social and health care services, or if they need advice about their rights, they can consult the Patient Ombudsman or Social Ombudsman.