Hospital districts instructed to reallocate non-urgent care capacity to treatment of patients infected with coronavirus

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 20.3.2020 14.38
Press release 61/2020

Under the Emergency Powers Act, a Government Decree has been issued that allows to deviate from the time limits for non-urgent healthcare, except for the assessment of the need for care. The assessment of the need for care must still be carried out within three weeks.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health estimates that hospital districts providing specialised medical care will have to reallocate a significant proportion of their resources to the treatment of patients infected with the coronavirus. 

The situation may require training of personnel to carry out tasks they do not normally do as e.g. the personnel and facilities of operating theatres may have to be assigned to treat patients infected with the coronavirus. 

Patient safety the first priority

Deviating from the time limits may not compromise the health of patients. Patient safety is the first priority in all circumstances.

The principle of patient safety requires that hospital districts must have a plan on securing treatment for patients whose illness or condition could turn into one that requires urgent care or become untreatable if they have to wait (e.g. cancer diagnostics and care).

Assessment of the need for care in normal conditions

A provider of specialised medical care must carry out the assessment of the need for non-urgent treatment within three weeks of the receipt of the referral by the healthcare unit.

If the assessment of the need for care requires special tests or analyses, the assessment and the necessary tests and analyses must be carried out within three months of the receipt of the referral.

Any treatment and provision of advice deemed necessary on the basis of the assessment of the need for care must be arranged and commenced within six months of the need for care having been established, taking account of the urgency required by the type of care.

Inquiries:

Senior Medical Officer Annika Takala, [email protected]