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Susanna Huovinen is a Member of Parliament for the Social Democratic Party. Huovinen has served as a Minister of Health and Social Services since 2013 and is also a former Minister of Transport and Communications (2005-2007). Huovinen has a Master's Degree in Social Sciences. Her hobbies include Nordic walking, zumba, pilates and reading.Recently, an elderly lady phoned me. She was outraged because we politicians talk nineteen to the dozen about every detail of the health and social service reform, while the basic services are in disarray. Why don't you do something about the services instead of gabbling on about the structure, she asked. A relevant question with a simple answer: if we do not find the courage to overhaul the structure, we cannot improve the services.

And this point is at the heart of the reform. As the Minister of Health and Social Services, I all too often get contacted by people who feel they have fallen between different administrative levels with their needs. Citizens say that getting help requires tenacity. This is not how it should be. How many people struggling with exhaustion or multiple illnesses are really up to looking for help from a number of places? Not everyone has a family member to offer support and help. Of course, there are cases where people have received the help they needed without delay.

Even though the services work well in some parts of the country, there are too many regions facing serious problems. Regional differences in well-being have grown in the 2000s. Too often people fail to receive help in time. And too often people are sent on a wild goose chase from one office to another, while the more matters drag on, the more complicated they tend become. We must shift our focus from fixing the problem to preventive measures. To gain high-performance service chains, we must overhaul the service structure. Therefore the social welfare and health reform is a means of achieving better services. When all decisions regarding the whole chain, from primary care to specialist services, are made under one roof and within the framework of one budget, the will to produce timely and comprehensive help can be ensured. Otherwise the financial costs – let alone the costs to human lives – will become unsustainably high.

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