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Precautions taken in view of the looming industrial action in health care

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 16.11.2007 8.00
Press release -

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Government have taken precautions in view of the threatening mass resignations due to a possible industrial action in health care on 20 November. The Government wants to ensure patient safety in all situations.

Possible mass resignations in health care are targeted above all at specialised medical care throughout Finland.

The hospital districts and municipal authorities are responsible for the provision of health care services for the population. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has issued instructions for the hospital districts and municipalities on how they should prepare for a possible industrial action so that patient safety can be ensured during the action.

The municipal health centres and private medical centres will as a rule operate normally. Hospitals concentrate on the treatment of patients in need of urgent care.

Tourists arriving in Finland are advised to take into account problems in the availability of health services in case the industrial action begins on 20 November.

Information on health care services is available from health centres and hospitals, which have specific telephone numbers for advice. If needed, additional information on the effects of the industrial action on health services is available from the national telephone number for advice. The nationwide telephone service number meant for the population is +358 800 02277. The service is open from 10 to 18 on weekdays and from 12 to 16 on Sundays.

Further information on websites:

www.stm.fi (English)

Patient Safety Act

The Government introduced on 9 November a bill on a Patient Safety Act to Parliament. The purpose of the bill is to ensure a minimum level of patient safety in situations in which the staff remaining in employment would not be sufficient to ensure the life and health of the patients cared for.

According to the bill the State Provincial Offices may order health care professionals for patient safety work in municipal health care units in particular situations in which the life or health of patients is seriously endangered due to the shortage of staff caused by an industrial action. The purpose is that the Parliament will adopt the Act on Friday 16 November, and the President of the Republic will ratify it on the same day.

Background

The biggest trade union of nurses in Finland, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals Tehy gave a strike warning on 15 October 2007 regarding mass resignation in the municipal sector. The mass resignation will be realised on 20 November in case the labour market parties do not reach agreement in their negotiations by that date. The Ministry of Labour set up on 26 October a mediation board to conciliate between Tehy and the Commission for Local Authority Employers in theindustrial dispute.

The membership of the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals consists of registered nurses, emergency nurses, public health nurses and midwives. Mass resignations would mainly be aimed at functions in which in particular intensive care, deliveries, emergency care and the acute care of cancer patients would be jeopardised. Access to care and patient safety would be endangered across the country.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for ensuring patient safety and the necessary treatments in exceptional situations too. The Ministry and the Government are not parties to the negotiations to ward off the threatening industrial action.

For further information please contact:

Pekka Järvinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health tel. +358 9 160 73800, +358 50 5638347, e-mail: givenname.surname(at)stm.fi

Tom Silfvast, Senior Medical Officer, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 9 160 74131, +358 50 4141 485, e-mail: givenname.surname(at)stm.fi

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