Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP) was photographed arriving for the government’s budget negotiations at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on 31 August 2022. Lindén on Monday said the government has reached an agreement on the controversial patient safety act. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


MINISTER of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP) on Monday announced the government has reached an agreement on the disputed patient safety bill and will present it to the Parliament on Tuesday or Wednesday, reports Demokraatti.

The bill would effectively enable regional state administrative agencies to restrict strikes affecting essential social and health care services and order employees to work under the threat of fine.

The Left Alliance Parliamentary Group, however, declared immediately after the announcement that it opposes the bill in its current form and will call for substantial amendments to it in the Parliament.

“Due to schedule pressure, the Left Alliance’s ministers are ready to bring the bill from the government for parliamentary consideration exceptionally without the parliamentary group’s approval of the content of the bill. The party’s legislators intend to continue their efforts to shape the bill during the parliamentary proceedings,” the group said in a public statement.

Jussi Saramo, the chairperson of the Left Alliance Parliamentary Group, told STT on Monday that while the government has the duty to move forward with the project to safeguard social and health care services that are essential for the health and lives of patients, many of its provisions undermine industrial action also in respects that are not justified from the viewpoint of the services.

Unless those aspects of the bill are improved, the group will have no choice but to vote against the proposal, he said.

Teemu Muhonen, a political journalist at Helsingin Sanomat, wrote in his analysis that the party’s decision could even lead to it abandoning the ruling five-party coalition, as the other ruling parties would unlikely tolerate the party voting against the bill.

The Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (Super) and the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland (Tehy) have announced strikes targeting intensive care in Hämeenlinna, Oulu and Turku. The unions have voiced their dismay with the bill, arguing that it would eradicate the right of nurses to industrial action.

Lindén on Monday revealed that the scope of the bill was narrowed moderately in the last stage of the drafting, with the ruling out of all forms of social care except for home care that is essential for the health and life of the patient.

Members of Super and Tehy are to stage a one-day strike at the intensive care unit of Kanta-Häme Central Hospital in Hämeenlinna on Friday. While the bill cannot be enacted in time to affect the strike, it could come into force before a four-day strike that is to begin at the intensive care unit of Turku Central University Hospital on Tuesday, 20 September.

Another four-day strike is scheduled to begin at the intensive care unit of Oulu Central Hospital on 27 September.

Kanta-Häme Hospital District and Southwest Finland Hospital District on Monday said they have submitted a request for a preliminary injunction to a district court in an attempt to guarantee patient safety during the strikes.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT