Municipalities have the right to deviate from the time limits for initiating an assessment of the need for non-urgent care
Municipalities have been given the right to deviate from the time limits for non-urgent healthcare and for initiating the assessment of the need for social welfare services. This right was granted under the Emergency Powers Act and is to be extended until 30 June 2020.
The Government issued a decree on it on 12 May 2020. The decree has been clarified with regard to social welfare.
Municipalities may continue to waive the deadlines for non-urgent care if this is necessary for the provision of urgent care. However, the abolition of time limits for non-urgent care must not put the health of patients at risk. The assessment of the need for treatment must be carried out as before.
Every person residing in a municipality has the right to receive social services based on his or her individual needs in urgent cases, and therefore the need for urgent assistance must always be assessed immediately. The right to essential care and livelihood and adequate social services must not be compromised. This right remains even when the time limit for assessing the need for services has been made more flexible.
Under emergency conditions, municipalities may exceed the time limit of seven working days for initiating an assessment of the service needs of people over 75 years of age or those receiving the highest care allowance.
The assessment of the need for services must be initiated without delay and completed without undue delay. In the case of a child in need of special support, the assessment of the need for services must be initiated no later than seven days.
The waiver of the time limit for initiating an assessment of the need for services does not apply to the time limits laid down in the Child Welfare Act and the Act on Disability Services and Assistance. The need for services of other people in need of special protection and of older people must always be assessed with adequate expediency, as they are not always able to seek help themselves when they need it.
Anne Ilkka, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 384 (healthcare)
Jaana Huhta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 407 (social welfare)