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Patients have access to health services according to care plan even outside their home municipality

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 3.5.2011 8.00
Press release -

The new Health Care Act, which entered into force on 1 May, allows patients access to health centre services even outside their municipality of residence if they reside in another municipality on a regular or long-term basis, for example, because of work, leisure, a close relative or other comparable reason.

The patient must notify the health centre in the other municipality of his or her service needs at least three weeks prior to the first visit. Moreover, he or she must have a care plan, which is drawn up by the health centre of the home municipality: the plan defines the services the patient is entitled to at another health centre.

The care plan is required for non-emergency services. In urgent cases it is still possible to use services in any municipality.

All long-term patients, especially those with multiple conditions, need a proper care plan for carrying out the necessary care and treatments. Health care professionals draw up the plan together with the patient. Some health centres can draw up health and care plans for everyone needing one already in the initial phase. Others are prioritising care plans for treatments provided outside the municipality.

Mobility of patient records enables smoothly running care and better patient safety

The Health Care Act improves also the mobility of patient records. All the electronic patient registers and patient record archives in the health centres and hospitals in a hospital district form a joint register of patient records. The personnel treating the patient have access to patient records in the joint register even without the patient's consent provided that the information is necessary for the treatment.

The patient must be informed of the joint use of the patient register as well as of the possibility to forbid the joint use. The ban is valid until further notice and it can be cancelled any time. The patient records included in the prohibition are non-accessible even in emergencies. However, the patient can draw up a separate living will where he or she can allow the use of records included in the prohibition for example if he or she is unconscious and in need of immediate care.

More freedom to choose one's place of care

The patient can change his or her health station within the home municipality or the cooperation area once a year. The patient must notify both the new health station and the old health station of the change three weeks prior to the first visit. It is also possible to the specialised health care unit within a so-called area of responsibility, which is formed by neighbouring hospital districts. The patient chooses the unit for specialised health care in cooperation with the doctor issuing the referral to care.

From 2014 onwards the patient has the right to choose his or her health station and specialised health care unit from all the public health stations and hospitals in the country.

Further information

Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, Director, tel. +358 9 160 73804, 050 331 0314
Jukka Mattila, Ministerial Counsellor/Health Affairs, tel. + 358 9 160 74194, 050 572 6277
Taina Mäntyranta, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 9 160 74178

This text is an English summary of the press release in Finnish published on 3 May 2011.

Paula Risikko
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