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Ensuring access to treatment in specialist medical care

The amendment to the Specialist Medical Treatment Act regarding the healthcare guarantee became effective as of March 1, 2005.

It requires that a patient’s need for medical treatment must be assessed within 3 weeks from reception of the referral note at the specialist medical treatment unit. The treatment as deemed necessary by the specialist medical treatment unit, such as a surgical operation, must be arranged within 6 months from the treatment assessment. Child and adolescent psychiatric treatment constitute an exception; this must be arranged within 3 months at most (persons under the age of 23).

All patients, excluding emergency polyclinic patients, must have a doctor's referral note for specialist medical treatment. The admitting doctor specifies the unit the patient is sent to. The hospital processes the referral note within 3 weeks and informs the patient about any examinations and timetables as well as possible placement in the queue for surgery, for example, provided that this is an option on the basis of the patient's referral note. If the patient's condition cannot be assessed and the required treatment cannot be planned based on the examination and the referral note, the patient will be invited to a hospital polyclinic usually within 1 to 2 months.

Along with the enforcement of this amendment to the Specialist Medical Treatment Act, common national instructions for the healthcare guarantee were also drawn up. Consequently, not all the treatment provided earlier now falls under the healthcare guarantee.  More information on the healthcare guarantee is available at For example, the indications for cataract operations have slightly changed and varicose vein surgery is another example.


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Päivitetty 16.8.2011 8:29

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