While sote planning ends, €200 million investment money ‘can still be saved’

Regions and agencies will find out more information this week how to bring their planning and preparations to an end.

File picture showing exterior of parliament building / Credit: News Now Finland

A €200 million sum that’s been spent on preparations and planning for social, health and regional reform – known as sote in Finnish – can still be put to use by the next government, according to officials, even though work on the reforms must end for now.

Last Friday Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) tendered the resignation of the government over its inability to get flagship sote reform through parliament.

The reform was the government’s most important piece of legislation over the last four years, and the Ministry of Health estimates that some €200 million of preparatory work was carried out between 2007 and 2019.

According to the Ministry, the majority of that funding was granted to regional councils for preliminary preparations, including information and computer technology changes to meet the standards envisaged in the failed reforms.

Efforts are now underway to stop the preparations, document the work that’s been done so far, and it will be up to the next government to decide whether the reform preparations will continue, and make decisions about the work that has already been done.

Finnish political parties all seem to agree that the social and health care system is in need of reform, especially to cope with an ageing population and rising costs of care, but there is disagreement about what changes need to happen.

“The main issue is who is going to organize the social health care services. So far the municipalities have been responsible for that and previous governments have tried to establish organizations above them with failed efforts” says Heikki Hiilamo, Professor of social and public policy at Helsinki University.

“The municipalities have already come together forming confederations of municipality making preparations and they have already decided new ways to produce social and healthcare services. That part is already implemented” Professor Hiilamo tells News Now Finland.

During this week, organisations involved in the preparedness exercises like different regions, service centres and ministries will get information about how the money they’ve already been giving can be used now that this round of reforms has failed to materialise.