Five regions for organisation of social welfare and health care services
Today, the government parties and the opposition parties agreed on the implementation of a comprehensive reform of social welfare and health care services in Finland. The aim is to safeguard the provision of vital welfare services over the forthcoming decades.
All social welfare and health care services are to be delivered by five strong regional providers. The new social welfare and health care regions will be based on the current specific catchment areas and rely on existing well-functioning structures.
The new regions will constitute a clear and single tier administration for the organisation of social welfare and health care services. The administrative model for the new regions is a joint municipal authority and the regions are to be financed by municipalities on a weighted capitation basis. The reform will be pursued in parallel with the ongoing review of the financing options, but as an independent whole of its own. At the same time, national level steering will be strengthened to ensure regional balance and economic efficiency.
The point of departure for the reform is a full integration of all social welfare and health care services by a strong regional provider. The aim is to create seamless service chains for the provision of key welfare and health care services. The integration of social welfare and health care services and the generation of sufficiently large population bases will have positive impact on the sustainability gap of public finances.
In future, the organisation of social welfare and health care services will be the responsibility of five regions. Municipalities will continue to participate in the provision of the services. Local services, such as health care services, home help services for the elderly and social welfare services, will still be provided close to home.
Such an important reform will require concerted action. Preparatory work will mainly be carried out as part of official duties, with support from relevant experts. In addition, a parliamentary steering group will be appointed to work under the chairmanship of Minister of Health and Social Services Susanna Huovinen. All parties will be represented in the group. The aim is to finalise a proposal by the end of May and circulate it for comments in June. The proposal is to be considered in Parliament this autumn.
Preparations for the reform will begin immediately. The reform will be prepared in a manner that will safeguard linguistic rights as provided for in the Constitution. According to an earlier issued plan, the new regions responsible for the organisation of social welfare and health care services are to be up and running as of 1 January 2017.