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Municipalities have the right to deviate from time limits for non-urgent healthcare and assessment of the need for social welfare services due to the coronavirus out-break

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 17.3.2020 16.04
Press release 53/2020

On 17 March, the Government issued a decree on the statutory time limits for non-urgent care (care guarantee) in municipalities. The decree is based on the Government decision of 16 March concerning the coronavirus outbreak and on the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act. The decree will enter into force on 18 March 2020.

Based on the decree, a municipality may waive the time limits set in the Health Care Act when arranging non-urgent care. 

However, municipalities must carry out an assessment of the need for treatment in primary healthcare no later than the third weekday after the patient has contacted the healthcare unit if it has not been possible to carry out the assessment during the first contact.

As regards specialised medical care, mental health services for children and young people and specialised medical care provided in connection with primary healthcare, an assessment of the need for treatment shall be commenced within three weeks of the healthcare unit, hospital run by a joint municipal authority or other specialised medical care unit receiving a referral.

Any treatment deemed necessary on medical or dental grounds in connection with the assessment of the need for treatment shall be provided within a reasonable period of time, taking into consideration the health of the patient and the projected development of the condition.

A municipality may deviate from the provisions on the assessment of the need for services as referred to in the Social Welfare Act, with the exception of the urgent assessment of the need for assistance. However, the municipality must ensure that the person receives indispensable subsistence and care. In particular, an adequate assessment of the need for ser-vices should be ensured for older people and customers in need of special support. 


Anne Ilkka, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]
Jaana Huhta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]
Annika Parsons, Ministerial Adviser (child welfare), [email protected]

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