Health and social services reform

The health and social services reform restructured the organisation of public healthcare and social welfare in Finland. Rescue services were also restructured as part of the reform. The responsibility for organising healthcare, social welfare and rescue services was transferred from municipalities and joint municipal authorities to wellbeing services counties on 1 January 2023. The municipalities will continue to organise certain services, including child daycare, education, sports and cultural services. The reform was carried out in a people-oriented manner, with a focus on services. As society is changing, services need to change with it.

Which services will the wellbeing services counties organise? 

Public health and social services include: 

  • primary healthcare
  • specialised healthcare
  • hospital services
  • dental care
  • mental health and substance abuse services
  • maternity and child health clinics
  • social work for adults
  • child welfare
  • services for people with disabilities
  • housing services for older people
  • home care
  • rehabilitation.

Most of the services provided by the wellbeing services counties will be public services financed with tax revenue. The counties may either provide services themselves or purchase them from private service providers. 

Why do we need this reform?

Not all people have had equal access to health and social services and they may have needed to wait for access to care and services.  

The Finnish population is ageing and the need for care is increasing. At the same time, the birth rate is falling, and in future, the working age population will decline. As a result, tax revenue will decrease year by year. 

Objectives of the health and social services reform

The goal of the reform is to safeguard equal and quality health and social services for all and reduce inequalities in health and wellbeing. Health and social services will use the best and most efficient practices. The aim is to ensure the availability of skilled labour, improve safety and respond to the challenges arising from changes in society. The public sector will be the primary provider of health and social services, with private service providers and organisations serving as supplementary service providers as before.

Support and services according to individual need 

The aim is to integrate health and social services seamlessly with one another. You will get the help you need with one contact and your transition from one service to another will be smoother. You will have fast access to doctors and other services when you need them.

You will get help fast and early on

The idea is to ensure that people get the services they need quickly and to resolve problems early on. Receiving help at an early stage is important so that minor problems do not grow into serious ones. An additional aim is for clients to get an appointment with a healthcare professional within seven days of the assessment of need for care. 

When problems are resolved early on, people will receive care when they need it, the need for specialised healthcare will decrease and costs will fall.

Greater variety of locally accessible services

Services will be locally accessible and located close to shops and other services. In addition to the health and social services provided by health centres and other service units, there will be online services and services provided at home. Mobile services will also bring services closer to people.

Influence over health and social services

Residents and service users will be involved in developing services. The wellbeing services counties will ensure that the residents of their county have the opportunity to participate in and exert influence on this work. The counties may decide themselves on the services they will be providing based on their particular characteristics. 

Right to use your mother tongue and receive interpretation 

As a client, you have the right to use Finnish, Swedish or Saami. For many services, you can also use English. When there is no common language, the personnel must ensure that you understand how help will be organised.

Services supporting your work ability and functional capacity easily accessible 

If you have lost some of your ability to work or your functional capacity, this can be assessed at a health and social services centre. You will get the services you need to improve your chances of employment, of continuing to work and for coping at work.

Support for families with children

Services for families with children will be easily accessible and located close to where people live. Family centres will provide many different kinds of support for parenting. Additionally, you can still receive services from your local maternity and child health clinic. You can get the services that best suit your family in consultation together with professionals. Do not hesitate to contact the provider of the services you need as soon as possible. 

Online services will save time

Digital services will save time and travelling. You can book an appointment online, ask for advice or assess your need for care. You can even consult a doctor or a social worker online. Advice services for clients will be offered more extensively than at present. You can also get help by telephone or face to face if you want. 

Urgent care and support

When in need of urgent assistance, you can still go to the nearest urgent care centre. Health and social services centres, too, can offer late evening and weekend appointments. You can also contact the Medical Helpline, by calling 116117, to get guidance and advice on what to do. In case of emergency, call 112.

Responsibility for health, social and rescue services duties to rest with 22 organisers

After the reform, there are 21 new wellbeing services counties in Finland. In addition, the City of Helsinki will organise its own health, social and rescue services.

  • Wellbeing services county of South Karelia
  • Wellbeing services county of South Ostrobothnia   
  • Wellbeing services county of South Savo  
  • Wellbeing services county of East Uusimaa 
  • Wellbeing services county of Kainuu    
  • Wellbeing services county of Kanta-Häme 
  • Wellbeing services county of Central Ostrobothnia
  • Wellbeing services county of Central Finland  
  • Wellbeing services county of Central Uusimaa  
  • Wellbeing services county of Kymenlaakso  
  • Wellbeing services county of Lapland 
  • Wellbeing services county of West Uusimaa 
  • Wellbeing services county of Pirkanmaa  
  • Wellbeing services county of Ostrobothnia   
  • Wellbeing services county of North Karelia  
  • Wellbeing services county of North Ostrobothnia
  • Wellbeing services county of North Savo  
  • Wellbeing services county of Päijät-Häme  
  • Wellbeing services county of Satakunta  
  • Wellbeing services county of Vantaa and Kerava  
  • Wellbeing services county of Southwest Finland  
  • City of Helsinki

The wellbeing services counties would assume responsibility for organising services and start operating on 1 January 2023.