The President of the Republic Ratified the Patient Safety Act
Health care professionals may be ordered for patient safety work if the threatened industrial action in municipal health care will be realised and patient safety will be endangered because of the shortage of nursing staff. The President of the Republic ratified on Friday 16 November the Act on ensuring patient safety that enables the measure during an industrial action in the field of health care. The Act enters into force on Saturday 17 November.
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. People 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.
An order for patient safety work imposed by a State Provincial Office must always be based on the proposal of the municipality or joint municipal board within which the patient safety work is to be carried out. When drawing up the proposal the municipality or joint municipal board must provide the local branch of the trade union that has undertaken industrial action with an opportunity to give an opinion. Before imposing the order the State Provincial Office must provide the person ordered for patient safety work with an opportunity to be heard in the matter.
The order must define the point of time when the patient safety work starts, its duration, the unit in which it will be performed, and the chief tasks. The order can be issued for a maximum of one week at a time and it can be renewed. The order can be reinforced by imposing a conditional fine.
The persons ordered for patient safety work are paid a compensation for the work and they are entitled to return to their ordinary work after the end of the patient safety period.
The Patient Safety Act enters into force on 17 November 2007 and it will be in force until 31 March 2008. The Act shall not be applied after the end of the possible industrial action regarding municipal health care.
For further information please contact: Pekka Järvinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs, tel. +358 9 160 73800, +358 50 5638347, or Tom Silfvast, Senior Medical Officer, tel. +358 9 160 74131, +358 50 4141 485