Each hospital district has its own central hospital with departments equipped to deal with most forms of specialist treatment.
The amount of bed space available in Finnish hospitals is generally quite high. However recent trends show that hospitals in Finland have had to start reducing the number of their emergency units in order to save costs and to reduce the doctors’ workload.
Secondary health care in Finland
Other than in the event of an emergency, you will need to have a referral from a dentist or your GP in order to be treated in one of Finland’s hospitals (sairaalat). You will need to show proof of valid health insurance (for example an EHIC card for EU citizens) in order to receive the same benefits as a resident in Finland.
Patients requiring non-emergency treatment in hospital must be seen within 6 months of the time at which their GP referred them. If the hospital is unable to treat the patient within this 6-month period, the local municipality is obliged to organise treatment for that patient at no cost, either privately or at another state hospital.
Some hospitals charge a fee for outpatient visits, surgery and some forms of treatment and rehabilitation. It is worth checking on your health insurance policy as to whether you can claim for reimbursement on these fees. In general, most treatments under the public health care system in Finland qualify for reimbursement.
Tertiary health care in Finland
Tertiary health care is essentially the most specialist form of treatment available, most likely provided in any one of Finland’s five university teaching hospitals.
Hospitals in the tertiary health care sector have the most advanced facilities in the country. They are also the place where trainee doctors learn their trade.
These hospitals are located in the major cities of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Kuopio and Oulu.