The Government wants to ensure patient safety in all conditions
The Government of Finland is very much concerned about patient safety if the looming labour conflict in the health care field will materialise. Therefore the Government has submitted a bill according to which the State Provincial Offices should be able to 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 Government decided on the content of the bill regarding ensuring patient safety on Friday 9 November.
According to the bill health care professionals can be ordered to perform patient safety work irrespective of whether they have given notice, whether they are for other reasons outside the labour market or working elsewhere. The persons ordered to perform patient safety work are mainly those who have given notice due to an industrial action, and only in very exceptional cases other persons with adequate professionals skills. Health care professionals not participating in the industrial action could be ordered to perform duties deviating from their normal duties. It would also be possible to deviate from the rules concerning hours of work.
The act is proposed to be in force for a fixed period of time. It would enter into force as soon as possible after it has been adopted and ratified.
The ground for the proposed act is the intended industrial action by Tehy ry, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland, in which mass resignation would result in a collapse of several critical functions; in some cases it would even be necessary to wholly cease providing care. The mass resignations would be targeted to areas that will jeopardise in particular intensive care, deliveries, emergency care and acute treatment of cancer. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has appealed to the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals that it will on a voluntary basis limit its industrial action so as not to endanger the life and health of patients. 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. If the parties will not reach agreement, the industrial action starts on Tuesday 20 November.