Implementation of health and social services reform now under way
“After many years of preparation and waiting, the implementation of the reform of healthcare, social welfare and rescue services can finally get under way,” Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru said in her opening address to a group of representatives from the wellbeing services counties at the implementation kick-off event on 26 August.
Kiuru emphasised that the reform of healthcare, social welfare and rescue services is beginning under very exceptional circumstances. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been weighing heavily on us for a long time. Dealing with COVID-19 has required an unprecedented amount of work and flexibility on the part of healthcare and social welfare workers and management.”
“The implementation of the health and social services reform is moving at full speed in the wellbeing services counties. Our sights are set on the coming months before the wellbeing services counties begin their work: what are the critical factors for the start of the wellbeing services counties and what issues should be taken into account in order to achieve the objectives of the reform?” Minister Kiuru continued.
County councils to begin operations next year
The county councils will take on their role as organisers once they start operating in 2022. The actual responsibility for organising services will be transferred to the wellbeing services counties on 1 January 2023. The first county elections will be held on 23 January 2022. Starting in 2025, the county elections will be held in conjunction with the local elections. County elections will be held in all areas except Helsinki.
The Government is financing the preparatory work carried out for the reform in the wellbeing services counties, the joint county authority for the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa and the City of Helsinki in line with the act on implementing the reform. The appropriation in the form of a state subsidy can be used to establish the wellbeing services counties, to fund their operations and to cover the costs of the interim preparatory bodies in 2021 and 2022. The estimated total cost of implementing the changes is EUR 62 million. The Government is monitoring the use and adequacy of the funding.
“In addition to financial support, we have set up a number of expert networks and preparatory groups to support the implementation in cooperation with various ministries. These networks and working groups, together with representatives from the counties, have drawn up implementation roadmaps that aim to provide concrete check marks to the people carrying out the preparatory work in the counties,” Kiuru said.
Wellbeing services counties to operate as independent entities
The wellbeing services counties will make decisions on their services and therefore also on their service networks, for example.
The wellbeing services counties are responsible for ensuring that services correspond to the needs of county residents and are equally available. They must also take into account the need for disaster preparedness at the county and national level.
Jenny Suominen, Special Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected], tel. +358295163109