Final report on the regional government, health and social services reform of Sipilä’s Government is completed
As part of the orderly dismantling of the regional government, health and social services reform of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Government, the final report on the project was published on 4 June 2019. The report describes the preparation of the reform in 2015–2019 from the perspective of national preparatory work. The report has been compiled by public servants and various actors who played a central role in the preparation.
The scope of the regional government, health and social services reform of Prime Minister Sipilä’s Government, its importance to society and its attachment to citizens’ daily services made the reform an exceptional government project. The objectives of the reform were ambitious, and in the history of Finnish administration its large scale was unprecedented.
The work to prepare and implement the reform was carried out in ministries and in government agencies and institutes of different administrative sectors, in county projects and in service centres. The preparatory work for the regional government, health and social services reform was carried out in cooperation across administrative borders, and a close relationship of interaction was built with those doing preparatory work in the counties. The new preparation and operating model is one of the project’s significant successes, and there is reason to utilise it also in the future.
The central conclusion of the report is that when preparations for sweeping reforms are started, sufficient time must be reserved to organise the whole. When launching new reforms, the most essential are clear objectives that are shared among the various parties and are jointly understood; objectives that guide the preparation. The recommendation is to invest in both official and more informal forms of cooperation already at an early stage, and to ensure that different organisations get to participate in project planning.
In 2015, the reform started rapidly with regard to the working groups on law drafting, but there were shortcomings in the organisation of the whole. Management of the reform was also hampered by changes in political policies and the haste that characterised the entire process of preparing the reform.
The objective of the regional government, health and social services reform was to provide people with more equal services than at present, to reduce differences in wellbeing and health, and to curb rising costs. The reform strove to strengthen basic services, utilise digitalised services better than before, and to narrow a large part of the fiscal sustainability gap. The intention was that out of the EUR 10 billion savings target of the Sipilä Government, about EUR 3 billion would come from the health and social services reform by the year 2029.
Preparation of the regional government, health and social services reform ended on 8 March 2019 with the resignation of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Government; the preconditions for further preparation of the reform no longer existed.
Edited 20 January 2020: english version of the final report added.
Päivi Nerg, Permanent Under-Secretary, Ministry of Finance ([email protected])
Jani Pitkäniemi, Director General, Ministry of Finance ([email protected])
Pasi Pohjola, Head of Department, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health ([email protected])