Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) spoke to reporters before the first plenary session of the autumn term in the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki on Wednesday, 4 September 2019. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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PRIME MINISTER Antti Rinne (SDP) has cast further light on his idea of incorporating postal workers into the long-discussed social and health care reform in Finland.

Rinne on Tuesday floated the idea of utilising the roughly 22,000 mail carriers employed by Posti, the Finnish state-owned postal services provider, to check up on elderly people in sparsely populated areas.

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“I’m not talking about nursing, but about the possibility of expanding this public service in a way that [the employees] could peek through the window to check if everything is alright. And if it isn’t, they could ask how they can help,” he underlined in an interview with YLE.

A handful of lawmakers voiced their reservations about the idea yesterday during the first plenary session of the autumn in the Finnish Parliament.

“Are you planning on turning postal workers and mail carriers also into elderly care workers? Is this the first step towards letting anyone become an elderly care worker? You’re outsourcing responsibility and thereby undermining citizens’ sense of security, including patient safety,” slammed Arja Juvonen (PS).

Her concerns were echoed by Mia Laiho (NCP): “This is very alarming indeed. While the government is trying to find nurses to satisfy staff dimensioning requirements, it’s replacing home care workers with postal workers.”

Rinne responded to the criticism by drawing attention to the changes caused by technological advances in how mail is delivered.

“The first instinct there has for a while been to lay off people or slash wages, and this is the wrong approach. It’s the wrong approach for the people working at Posti. And it’s the wrong approach also for the customers. You can’t deliver mail in the way you’re supposed to when you’re lacking resources,” he said.

He added that his intention was specifically to propose an alternative to the redundancies and wage reductions carried out by the state-owned company.

“We need preventive work, to increase people’s safety also in areas where the population is on a decline,” he stressed. “It could make sense to think about preventive work as part of the social and health care reform – to think about someone being there to increase safety, knocking on your door and asking if everything is alright, if you need something tomorrow.”

“It’s definitely not about nursing. That’s the duty of physicians and trained nurses. But it’s about an added sense of security that can allow people to feel better than now.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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