Health services in Finland

According to the Finnish constitution, it is the duty of the public authorities to promote the health of the population. The provision of health care services in practice is the responsibility of the municipalities. Health care services are financed primarily out of tax revenue.
In the municipalities, primary health care services are provided by health centres, and specialised medical care is provided by hospital-district hospitals. A municipality may run its own health centre, or may do so together with several other municipalities. Some municipalities purchase nearly all their health centre services from private providers. One health centre can have several units and wards for inpatient care. Primary health care also covers maternity and child welfare clinics, school health care, medical rehabilitation, and dental care.

Specialized medical care

Residents of the municipalities can book appointments in a health centre by themselves. Access to specialised medical care requires a referral from a health centre physician or private practitioner for non-emergency cases.
For the organisation of specialised medical care, Finland is divided into 20 hospital districts. Five of them are university hospital districts. Operating as the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa HUS is the largest of these. One hospital district can run several hospitals. The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa has 24 hospitals throughout the province of Uusimaa in southern Finland.
In accordance with a national agreement on the division of tasks, the most demanding treatment and the treatment of rare and expensive illnesses have been centralised at the university hospitals of HUS.
General planning, direction and supervision of specialised medical care are the responsibilities of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and, at the provincial level, of provincial governments. The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is a research and development institute under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Specialized medical care in a nutshell

  • Specialized medical care is the responsibility of the municipalities
  • In order to facilitate cooperation between the municipalities Finland is divided into 20 hospital districts; hospital areas can be established
  • Focus is on providing medical care in the patient’s native language
  • The hospitals are owned and run by joint authorities
  • There is a minority language board in hospital districts with bilingual municipalities
  • The five university hospitals operate in co-operation with a faculty of medicine.