Public service pledge
According to the draft Act on Organising Health and Social Services, the counties will give their own service pledges to residents on services that are their responsibility to organise.
Service pledge will be a new steering instrument in the Finnish healthcare and social welfare sector. The public service pledge is a declaration of intent made to a county’s residents on how healthcare and social welfare services will be implemented in practice. It will thereby also be possible to give feedback and make proposals that will improve services in practice.
Service pledges can to some degree differ from each other. However, access to services must be the same for all because the counties are responsible for providing people with equitable healthcare and social services throughout the country. The services are equitable but they can be organised in different ways. Appointments with a doctor, for example, may take place face-to-face or via remote communications. Services can be organised in different ways to implement the freedom of choice of the client, too.
In their county service pledges, the counties will give their own service pledges to residents on services that are their responsibility to organise. The purpose of a county's service pledge is to implement healthcare and social welfare in such a way that
- clients’ views and needs are taken into consideration
- transparency in the organisation of services is increased
- the quality, effectiveness and cost-efficiency of services is improved.
The service pledge may apply to all services within a county’s responsibility to organise services, such as preventive, treatment or corrective and rehabilitative services. The service pledge will not apply more widely to social security.
The obligation of counties to organise health and social services will be based on legislation. Therefore, service pledges cannot be used to limit the statutory right to receive different services. In addition, a service pledge does not give county residents any new immediate rights to services and it cannot reduce the right of residents to receive services prescribed by law. The public service pledge will not be legally binding.
The Act on Organising Health and Social Services will not include provisions regarding service pledges given by service providers. However, that question will be considered in connection with the preparation of the freedom of choice legislation. Among the ideas put forward is that also service providers could give their own service pledges to clients on their services. A service provider's service pledge could include more detailed information on the content and quality of services. The purpose would be to give residents information that helps them to compare and choose between the service providers.
On the national level, no service pledge will be given. Every four years the Government will adopt national, and if necessary separately for each county, strategy objectives supplementing legislation for the organisation of healthcare and social welfare.
The introduction of a public service pledge is still under way because the public service pledge forms part of the organisation of freedom of choice. The intention is to determine services within the scope of freedom of choice in autumn 2016.
The schedule for the public service pledge is the same as that for the whole health and social services reform; it is to enter into force on 1 January 2020.
Vuokko Lehtimäki, Project Manager, tel. +358 2951 63256