Urgent and emergency health services

Päivystys - kuvituskuvaWellbeing services counties must organise 24-hour services for dealing with urgent cases. Patients can receive urgent care at urgent care centres irrespective of their place of residence. 

Urgent cases include cases involving an injury, a sudden onset of an illness, an exacerbation of a long-term illness, or a deterioration of functional ability where immediate intervention is required and where treatment cannot be postponed without risking the worsening of the condition or further injury. 

Provisions on urgent care and 24-hour services are laid down in the Health Care Act and the Government Decree on the Grounds for Urgent Care and the Requirements for 24-hour Services by Specialty.

Wellbeing services counties organise urgent and emergency health services

24-hour services must, as a rule, be organised as primary and specialised 24-hour services, including

  • primary healthcare services 
  • specialised healthcare services
  • related diagnostic services 
  • emergency social services under the Social Welfare Act. 

In practice, primary and specialised 24-hour services are available in large hospitals.

National guidance and advisory services in connection with 24-hour services

It is difficult for people to assess the urgency of the examination and care required by their state of health. This explains why units providing 24-hour services receive also clients who would get more appropriate treatment in units providing health and social services during normal office hours. As a result, national guidance and advisory services have been created to provide people with guidance and advice. 

Medical Helpline 116 117

Please call the Medical Helpline on 116 117 before you go to a unit providing urgent and emergency care services. In an emergency, call the emergency number 112 instead.
The Medical Helpline is a service providing advice and guidance in matters regarding health and social services. 

The Medical Helpline 116 117 is an advisory and guidance service provided by the wellbeing services counties and maintained by Digi Finland Oy where you can get advice on sudden health and social problems. The service covers more or less the entire country.

On the Medical Helpline 116 117, healthcare professionals assess over the phone whether you need emergency or urgent care, in accordance with the instructions valid in each region. The Helpline also provides more general information and guidance in urgent cases. 

Emergency Hub

You can also get information on sudden health problems from the Emergency Hub, which is an online health service operating in Finnish and developed by healthcare professionals. The Emergency Hub provides advice on sudden health problems and the self-care of health, and gives instructions on how to seek care outside the normal opening hours of healthcare services.

The Emergency Hub advises you in case of sudden health problems. It supports self-care and seeking treatment, and provides information on the operation of urgent and emergency health services.

Further information

Sirkku Pikkujämsä, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Medical Affairs 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Clients and Services in Healthcare and Social Welfare / APO, Service System Unit / PAL 0295163014  


Lasse Ilkka, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Safety, Security and Health / TUTO, Preparedness Unit / VAL 0295163714