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Supervision of healthcare in Finland

In Finland, healthcare operations are supervised by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) and Regional State Administrative Agencies. The pharmaceutical sector’s supervisory authority is Fimea. In addition, healthcare organisations have the obligation to supervise their operations themselves.

Valvira guides and supervises the operations of healthcare professionals and healthcare units in both the public and the private sector. The task of Valvira is to

  • maintain the register of healthcare professionals
  • investigate a complaint when it is suspected that a medical error or malpractice has contributed to the death or severe injury (in any other case, the complaint is investigated by the Regional State Administrative Agency)
  • monitor fulfilment of time limits under the care guarantee.

Valvira grants the following licences:

  • rights to practice for healthcare professionals
  • licences to provide private healthcare services in the case of operations in the area of more than one Regional State Administrative Agency (in any other case, the licence is granted by the Regional State Administrative Agency)
  • tissue licences (human organs, medical use of tissues and cells)
  • permits for termination of pregnancy and sterilisation in certain cases.

Regional State Administrative Agencies guide and supervise healthcare service providers in the municipalities

The Regional State Administrative Agency licenses private healthcare operators when they have operations in the area of only one municipality or one Regional State Administrative Agency. In addition, it deals with complaints and rectification and appeal matters and advises clients if they consider that there are serious deficiencies in the services or in their quality.

Healthcare employers must supervise their own operations

Healthcare employers have the primary responsibility for supervising their own operations. Employers must supervise, for example, employees, facilities and equipment.  Public healthcare units must have a plan for quality management and patient safety.

The operations of public healthcare are also supervised by the audit committees of the municipalities and joint municipal authorities. Their task is to assess the fulfilment of the economic and operational objectives of the municipality or local authority corporation. The audit committee reports its observations to the council of the municipality or joint authority of the hospital district.

Private healthcare companies must have a licence for their operations

Private healthcare companies must have a licence for their operations. The licence is granted by the Regional State Administrative Agency in whose area the company operates. If a company operates in the area of more than one Regional State Administrative Agency, the licence is granted by Valvira.

Private healthcare service providers must also have a self-supervision plan (website in Finnish). The plan shall describe, among other things, the company’s business idea as well as matters relating to staff competence, facilities and patient safety. The service provider must have a manager approved by the licensing authority, who is responsible for health services and for ensuring that the operations meet the requirements pursuant to law.

Fimea supervises the pharmaceutical sector

The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea regulates medicinal, blood and tissue products and develops the pharmaceutical sector in Finland. The agency’s tasks also include licensing and research duties and providing information on medicines. Among its other duties, Fimea grants licences to pharmacies and monitors adverse effects of medicines.