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Health worker safety is patient safety — Finland turns orange for World Patient Safety Day on 17 September

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 16.9.2020 15.09
Press release 209/2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 17 September World Patient Safety Day. In Finland, patient and client safety will be made visible by organising events and lighting up landmarks in orange colour.

The aim of World Patient Safety Day is to increase awareness about patient and client safety. This year’s theme, Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety, is closely linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Ensuring the safety and protection of health workers is also a way to guarantee patient and client safety during the pandemic. Health worker safety is also strengthened by ensuring sufficient skills and good management, for example. 

“Finland has a high-quality healthcare system and well-educated personnel. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of personnel in healthcare and social welfare units has been even more demanding than before, because it has been necessary for the personnel to protect against the virus to ensure both their own safety and that of patients and clients. Health worker safety cannot be separated from patient and client safety as it is one of the basic pillars of patient and client safety,” says Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru. 

Everyone can promote patient and client safety

World Patient Safety Day will bring together patients, clients and their families, healthcare and social welfare workers and leaders, researchers, policy-makers and representatives of the private sector to show their commitment to patient and client safety.

Research and knowledge are essential for promoting patient and client safety. Perhaps the most important issue is, however, that everyone pays attention to safety and does their part to promote it.

“We hope that all service users would stop to think how they could contribute to improving patient and client safety. Even small actions count. For example, it is helpful to keep an up-to-date list of medication and prepare for a healthcare visit by making notes,” says Tarja Pajunen, Senior Specialist from the Centre for Patient Safety Improvement. 

Hospital districts, municipalities and organisations to hold events around Finland

Many healthcare and social welfare operators will organise events for their employees and the general public on 17 September. For example, a joint hand hygiene campaign will be launched in the City of Kuopio and Central Finland; in Kymenlaakso, events will be organised for residents throughout the week; and in Kainuu, the babies born on World Patient Safety Day will be given a pair of orange socks.

Patient and client safety will be made visible in practice by lighting up various landmarks, such as buildings, bridges or statutes, in the campaign’s colour, orange. In Finland, about twenty landmarks will be lit up in orange on Thursday as this autumn evening gets darker.

A webinar entitled ‘Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety’ will also be held on World Patient Safety Day, 17 September. During the morning session at 9.00–12.00, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa and organisations and associations in the field will talk about health worker safety. The webinar can be viewed on the YouTube channel of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. 

The theme of the afternoon session is management and communication. In the afternoon at 12.00–15.30, the webinar will be led by Professor of Patient Safety Tuija Ikonen, who works as Research Director at the Centre for Patient Safety Improvement. Researchers from the University of Vaasa, led by Professor Pirkko Vartiainen, will also give presentations at the webinar. 

Share your thoughts about patient and client safety

World Patient Safety Day encourages people to take part in the discussion. The WHO urges all stakeholders to use the slogans ”Safe health workers, safe patients” and ”Speak up for health worker safety!” in all communications related to the Day.

 When contributing to the discussion in social media, use the hashtags #PatientSafety, #WorldPatientSafetyDay and #HealthWorker in English, and #Potilasturvallisuuspäivä, #PotilasJaAsiakasturvallisuus and #Henkilöstönturvallisuus in Finnish. 


Kaisa Halinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Medical Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. 0295 163 154, [email protected]
Tarja Pajunen, Senior Specialist, the Centre for Patient Safety Improvement, tel. 040 182 0904, [email protected]

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