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Health and social services centre

The contents of this article are subject to change due to the freedom of choice model. The Government will give a new proposal for the Freedom of Choice Act in spring 2018.

In the ongoing health and social services reform, services that are most often used by the citizens will be brought together under health and social services centres. The health and social services centres will offer a wider selection of services than health centres offer today. According to the Government’s freedom of choice model, clients can themselves choose whether they want to use the services of a public or private health and social services centre. The reform is scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2020.

What is a health and social services centre and what services are available there?

Health and social services centres offer their clients basic-level health and social services. 

These include, for example:

  • health counselling
  • health checks
  • appointments with general practitioners
  • assessments of functional capacity and work ability
  • guidance and advice given by social workers
  • such medical specialist services that, according to the plans, are intended to be available at health and social services centres.

In future, services will also be given in different modes when mobile clinics and e-services become more common.

Social services from health and social services centres

According to the freedom of choice model proposed by the Government, certain social services will be available at health and social services centres.

If clients need services that are not available at their health and social services centres, they will be referred to an unincorporated county enterprise. A client will be referred to a unit of an unincorporated county enterprise also in cases where the services require an official decision. Such a unit may consist of a social services clinic or a unit providing services for persons with disabilities. The health and social services centre may even refer the client to receive peer support from civil society organisations if there is no need for actual health and social services.

Medical specialist services

The aim is that health and social services centres would even offer a limited range of specialised-level treatment. It would mean that GPs could consult medical specialists or refer their patients to tests or treatment to a hospital. Medical specialists could also temporarily work at health and social services centres.  Even then the GP of the health and social services centre would bear the overall responsibility for the care of the patient, and the care would not be discontinued at any poin

Clients can choose their health and social services centre

If the freedom of choice will expand in the way the Government has proposed, clients can themselves choose which health and social services centre they want to use.  In practice, people will sign up as clients to the health and social services centre they have chosen. The choice would be made online or in writing. If a client does not make the choice, the county of residence would refer him or her to a care facility that is located conveniently.

According to the freedom-of-choice model, publicly funded health and social services can in future be provided by public, private and third-sector operators, such as organisations and foundations. Client fees would be the same across service providers.

Clients can change their health and social services centre once a year

Clients must online or in writing submit a notice indicating which health and social services centre they have chosen as their care facility. The home county of the client will be informed of the choice.

Clients will have to commit to their choice for one year, which means that they can change their health and social services centre every twelve months. If the health and social services centre a client has chosen has units in several locations in Finland, the client could visit any one of these units. If for reasons of work, studies or recreation clients are temporarily residing in a municipality where their chosen service provider is not operating, they can visit some other service provider’s health and social services centre.

Health and social services centres will accept their clients in order of registration. Every health and social services centre must inform online if they can take on new clients. If the health and social services centre has not reached its maximum number of clients, it cannot refuse to accept a new client.

Inquiries:

Pirjo Kainulainen, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. + 358 295 163 092
Pekka Järvinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Legal Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 367
Kirsi Varhila, Director-General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 338