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Healthcare and social services in Helsinki to be reformed

Health and social services reform logo

Preparations for the health and social services reform are underway in Helsinki.

Parliament approved and the President confirmed the acts pertaining to the restructuring of health care, social welfare and rescue services in June 2021.

The new health care and social services model divides Finland into 21 wellbeing services counties. The social welfare, health care and rescue services that municipalities are currently responsible for will be transferred over to these wellbeing services counties. However, unlike other municipalities, Helsinki will remain responsible for organising the health care, social welfare and rescue services in its area, and will not be part of any wellbeing services county.

Uusimaa will be divided into five areas: Western Uusimaa, Eastern Uusimaa, Central Uusimaa, Vantaa-Kerava, and Helsinki. In Uusimaa, the joint county authority for the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa will be responsible for providing specialised medical care.

Premises of the health and social services reform

Finland’s population is aging rapidly and requires more services than before. Helsinki has its own special challenges: faster population growth than in the rest of the country, immigration concentrated in the metropolitan area, increasing challenges in children’s and young people’s mental well-being and well-being inequality between residents.

In the health and social services reform, the focus is shifted to basic services and prevention of issues. The objective is also to provide people with quicker access to care. When problems can be solved early, the need for specialised healthcare and demanding special services, as well as their costs, will decrease. The customers can use digital and low-threshold services smoothly and more than before.

In the reform, services will be developed and coordinated to prevent the service chain from breaking. The healthcare and social service professionals will direct the customer to the services where they can get the necessary individual help in a timely manner.

Preparation of the health and social services reform

The health and social services reform will be prepared in Helsinki in two project entities: the Structural Reform project and the Future Health and Social Services Centre project. We will prepare the reform as a part of the continuous development in the social services and healthcare sector. The steering group for the preparation work will be the management group for social services and healthcare with additional participants.

The steering of specialised healthcare, which is part of the Structural Reform project, has its own steering group, as preparations in this project section are made at a regional level for the entirety of Uusimaa. The steering group for the steering and development of specialised healthcare consists of representatives of the regions of Uusimaa (Helsinki, Vantaa and Kerava, Western Uusimaa, Central Uusimaa, Eastern Uusimaa) and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.

The City-level steering group

The health and social services reform will have a significant impact on the operations of the entire City. The effects will be greatest for the Social Services and Health Care Division, but the reform will also affect the City’s administration, economy, financial systems and the organisation of decision-making, as well as the Rescue Department. For this reason, a City-level steering group was established for the reform in February 2021. The steering group coordinates Helsinki’s City-level planning for the realisation and execution of the health and social services reform and related preparations.

The City-level steering group is chaired by City Manager Sami Sarvilinna and vice-chaired by Head of the Social Services and Health Care Division Juha Jolkkonen. The steering group consists of representatives of the City Executive Office, the divisions, the Rescue Department and City personnel.

Division for the Reform of Social Welfare, Health Care and Rescue Services

In September 2021, the Division for the Reform of Social Welfare, Health Care and Rescue Services was established under the City Board.

The task of the division is to control and monitor the planning and preparation of the reform. The division makes proposals to the City Board on changes to the city’s management system and organisational structure related to the reform.

The division was established for a fixed term and will be operational until 31 December 2022.

The website of the division (in Finnish)

The reform preparation work will be funded by the state. Helsinki has been granted a state subsidy of 12 million euros for the structural reform of health and social services, and 6.6 million euros for the Future Health and Social Services Centre project.

Key interest groups, such as residents, personnel, organisations and associations, will be given the opportunity to participate in the preparation of the health and social services reform.

Structural Reform

In addition to services, the health and social services reform will also change structures. In the structural reform project, we will create a new administrative structure to support the organisation of services.

The objective is that, in the future, Helsinki will use more efficient and effective models for management and steering as an organiser of healthcare and social services. Better coordination of departments and avoiding overlaps help us control the rising costs.

The Structural Reform project focuses on

• reinforcing the role as the services organiser and developing the steering of service providers
• reviewing the physical and digital service network and planning the necessary reforms
• defining the key service chains and entities (the integration spearheads of the Specialised Medical Care Guidance project together with the new well-being services counties of Uusimaa)
• developing management and implementing knowledge-based management, and
• preparing other actions related to controlling cost developments, such as HUS steering.

As a part of the structural reform, we will cooperate at the level of Uusimaa regarding the organisation, steering and collaboration of specialised healthcare. Helsinki will coordinate this cooperation.

Future Health and Social Services Centre

Healthcare and social services will be developed in the Future Health and Social Services Centre project. The project will continue the previous service reforms carried out in Helsinki.

The objectives of the project include

  • improving equal access to services, as well as the timeliness and continuity of the services
  • shifting the focus to preventive and pre-emptive work
  • ensuring the quality and impact of services
  • strengthening the multi-professionality and compatibility of services
  • controlling the rising costs.

The Future Health and Social Services Centre will consist of the services offered in the existing operating model, health and well-being centres, family centres and senior services. In the project, operating models will be developed based on the project objectives.

Main points for development

The project will focus on 13 main points for the reform of the social and health services:

  1. Becoming a customer and development of mutual work according to the customer segmentation
  2. Developing the brand Stadin sote as well as its ongoing attractiveness
  3. Access to non-urgent treatment within 7 days
  4. Development of mental health services
  5. Preventive/detective work, support for those at risk of becoming marginalised
  6. Functional building of the concept ‘Future health and social services centre’
  7. Integrating the services for the disabled into the social and health care services entity
  8. Diabetes centre
  9. Service chains for domestic violence, and substance abuse services for children and families
  10. Immigrant work
  11. Digital services
  12. Development of the efficacy of home care
  13. Contract management and development of the multiproducer model

Contact persons

Structural Reform project

Project manager, Mia Käyhkö
Project manager, Katja Tenhovirta (special health care and cooperation in Uusimaa)

Social Services and Health Centre of the Future project

Project manager, Anne Ojanen
Coordinating project manager, Lars Rosengren