Ambulance in front of the Peijas Hospital emergency clinic in the Vantaa and Kerava welfare area, in Vantaa, on January 2, 2023. LEHTIKUVA

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Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) has recently faced a shortage of staff, resulting in the postponement of pre-planned orthopedic surgeries at Siltasairaala. Currently, the operating room resources are being used to attend to emergency trauma and neurosurgery patients. Despite this setback, orthopedic surgeries are continuing as usual at other HUS hospitals, such as Peijaksen, Lohjan, Hyvinkää, and Porvoon.

HUS has a total of 159 operating rooms across its different hospitals, of which 120 to 125 rooms were in use on weekdays in the first few months of 2023. In 2021 and 2022, 120 to 135 operating rooms were in use on weekdays. The goal is to have 140 operating rooms available on weekdays after the planned summer closures, starting from September-October 2023.

To address the issue of staff shortages, HUS is exploring several solutions, such as restructuring work and task allocation. They are aiming to free up nurses' time by delegating some tasks to department pharmacists and care logistics personnel. Furthermore, the operating room staff is being encouraged to move between HUS units and work in different departments temporarily, with mobility allowances being provided as incentives. The recruitment process is also being intensified, with more emphasis on the onboarding process.

The shortage of staff is not a new issue, and it has affected healthcare systems worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem, with healthcare workers being overworked, stressed, and burnt out. This has led to many leaving the profession or taking extended leave, resulting in a shortage of medical personnel. HUS's response to the crisis reflects the need for innovation and adaptability in addressing the workforce's issues.

In conclusion, HUS's proactive measures to address the staff shortage issue and maintain the delivery of essential medical services are commendable. Their willingness to adopt new strategies, such as restructuring work allocation and incentivizing mobility, demonstrates their commitment to patient care and the well-being of their staff. We hope that HUS's efforts will bear fruit, and they will be able to overcome the staffing challenges to provide optimal medical care to their patients.

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