Hospitals will be understaffed this summer, according to the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS). Health officials in Finland anticipate a decline in new COVID cases throughout the summer, but experts are concerned about hospitals’ ability to address the problem in the coming months. The number of coronavirus patients admitted to hospitals has recently fallen, with fewer intensive care patients than at any time since last summer.

While COVID patients are unlikely to impose a strain on healthcare facilities this summer, HUS Chief Medical Officer Veli-Matti Ulander predicts that hospitals will struggle owing to staff shortages. According to Ulander, there is a national shortage of both permanent and temporary healthcare staff.

This summer, according to HUS, Finland’s largest hospital district, there will be fewer available beds than in previous years. “The situation is critical. This summer, we will have 200 fewer patient spaces than before.” Ulander told Yle about this. According to HUS’s senior physician, the summer of 2021 will be similarly difficult.

Delays that last for an extended amount of time

As a result, patients may experience lengthy treatment delays. “Non-urgent care is sometimes delayed until autumn,” Ulander explained. Experts have long expected a shortage of healthcare workers in Finland. To meet the needs of an aging population, an additional 30,000 nurses will be needed by 2030.

According to Ulander, the number of recruits entering the region is insufficient to replace those that leave. “The ramifications could be seen across the healthcare system, from nursing homes to specialized care,” he cautioned.

Furthermore, because workers have been relieved of their previous obligations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, new healthcare positions have been created. Two weeks ago, 250,000 nurses went on strike to protest salary and working conditions. The nurses’ unions then called for a 35,000-person healthcare strike.

The second strike was immediately called off after the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP) introduced legislation that, if passed, would have required nurses to return to work in the interest of patient safety.

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