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Access to treatment in specialist medical care

Under the Health Care Act, the hospital district joint authority is responsible for ensuring that both urgent and referral-based treatment needs assessments and actual treatment are provided on consistent medical or dental grounds. We report our principal details on access to treatment to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) three times a year. Access times in specialist medical care constitute the core indicator in monitoring access to treatment.

Access to treatment

Under section 52 of the Health Care Act (1326/2010), an assessment of the need for treatment shall be commenced within 3 weeks of the hospital or other specialist medical care unit run by the joint municipal authority receiving a referral. In situations where the assessment of the need for treatment requires consultation with a specialist or special imaging or laboratory tests, the assessment and any required tests shall be carried out within 3 months of the hospital or other specialist medical care unit in the hospital district receiving a referral. As regards mental health services for children and young people, in situations where the assessment of the need for treatment requires consultation with a specialist or special imaging or laboratory tests, the assessment and any required tests shall be carried out within 6 weeks of the hospital or other specialist medical care unit in the hospital district receiving a referral.

Any treatment and provision of advice deemed necessary on medical or dental grounds or on the basis of health science in connection with the assessment of the need for treatment shall be provided and begin within a reasonable period of time, taking into consideration the urgency of the case, and in any case within 6 months of the need for treatment having been ascertained. However, in urgent cases treatment shall be provided immediately.

Regarding child and adolescent mental health services, any treatment of an individual of less than 23 years of age deemed necessary on the basis of the assessment of the need for treatment shall begin within 3 months of the need for treatment having been ascertained, taking into consideration the urgency of the case, unless otherwise required on medical, therapeutic, or other comparable grounds.

Patients shall only be admitted to hospitals for non-urgent medical care on the basis of referrals based on medical or dental examinations.

Access to treatment covers medical care as per section 24 of the Health Care Act and medical rehabilitation as per section 29 of the same Act. Access to treatment shall not cover rehabilitation if the providing of the medical rehabilitation in question is the responsibility of the Social Insurance Institution (KELA) pursuant to section 9 of the Act on the Social Insurance Institution of Finland’s Rehabilitation Benefits and Rehabilitation Allowance Benefits (566/2005).

Current situation at HUS

Access times to treatment at our hospitals vary by specialty. 

Access times to treatment at our hospitals vary by specialty. The figure below shows the median waiting time (in days) for the various specialties.

Median waiting time in days by medical specialty 31.1.2021

Reporting on access to treatment to the THL

We send data on access to treatment to the THL, analyzed by hospital area, three times a year (April 30, August 30, and December 31). The data are submitted classified by specialty as determined in the Care Register (HILMO).

Details reported by us:

  1. For patients waiting for admission to inpatient care, ambulatory surgery, and outpatient care, we report the number of patients and their waiting times (cross-sectional data) by specialty
  2. For patients waiting for an appointment for a care needs assessment (first appointment, repeat appointment, treatment-related phone call), we report the number of patients and their waiting times (cross-sectional data) by specialty
  3. Referrals received, referrals processed, and referral processing times, cumulative from the beginning of the year, by specialty
  4. For patients waiting for admission to inpatient care, ambulatory surgery, and outpatient care, we report the number of patients and their waiting times (cross-sectional data) by specialty, member municipality data.
  5. The most common types of surgery and conservative treatment by queue group (cross-sectional data)
  6. The most common types of surgery and conservative treatment performed by queue group, cumulative from the beginning of the year
  7. For patients aged under 23 waiting for admission to child and adolescent mental health care services, we report the number of patients and their waiting times (psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, adolescent psychiatry, child psychiatry), patients waiting for inpatient care, day care, and outpatient care
  8. For patients aged under 23 waiting for a care needs assessment appointment in child and adolescent mental health services, we report the number of patients and their waiting times (psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, adolescent psychiatry, child psychiatry)

The most recent data submitted by us to the THL can be found in the reporting service of the THL.