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Government decides on transfer of responsibility for organising rescue services to health and social services counties

Ministry of the Interior 5.6.2020 14.58
Press release 57/2020
Ambulance on the street.

On 5 June, the Government published its policy on the reform of rescue services. The Government proposes that the responsibility for organising rescue services would rest with health and social services counties and the City of Helsinki. Rescue services would continue to be a separate sector working in parallel with the healthcare and social welfare sector.

As a result of the reform, the role of central government guidance and direction in rescue services would be strengthened. Rescue departments could, in addition to their rescue service duties, continue to provide prehospital emergency medical services and first response services. 

As a result of the reform, the responsibility for organising rescue services would be transferred from municipalities and joint municipal authorities to health and social services counties and the City of Helsinki. The division into health and social services counties would mainly be based on the current division into regions. However, there would be four health and social services counties in Uusimaa, and the City of Helsinki would also carry out duties of the health and social services county in its area. 

The health and social services counties would be responsible for organising both health and social services and rescue services in their areas. This would mean that the rescue departments could continue to provide prehospital emergency medical services for healthcare services. Currently, the rescue departments carry out approximately 400,000 urgent prehospital emergency medical care duties every year. 

“It is important that close links between the rescue services and the emergency medical services provided by the health and social services remain possible and that regional rescue services are developed on an equal footing with the health and social services reform. The rescue services already carry out a significant part of the emergency medical care duties in our country,” Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo says.

The rescue services reform would be visible to the public in the form of improved services. Stronger national guidance and direction would improve the provision of more harmonised and equal rescue services throughout the country.

Stronger central government guidance and direction

The rescue services reform aims to achieve a more efficient and economical system. In future, rescue services would be funded from the Budget. 

The Government would set national strategic objectives for the rescue services of the health and social services counties. The Government could also decide on the centralisation of some special tasks carried out by the rescue services so that these are handled by one or more health and social services counties.

The Ministry of the Interior would guide and direct the rescue services of the health and social services counties and the City of Helsinki. The Regional State Administrative Agencies would oversee the service level of rescue services, which should correspond to national, regional and local needs and threats of accidents.

Provisions on the rescue services of the health and social services counties and on central government guidance and direction will be laid down in the forthcoming act on organising rescue services. The intention is to circulate the act for comments at the same time as other bills concerning the health and social services reform in June 2020.

Inquiries:

Jarno Lappalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 40 053 6973, [email protected] 

Kimmo Kohvakka, Director General for Rescue Services, tel. +358 295 488 400, [email protected]

Ilpo Helismaa, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 422, [email protected]