NÄE ry: By implementing the government program entries, the situation regarding eye healthcare will improve – treatment queues may become a thing of the past through good cooperation between the public and private sectors

At the conclusion of several weeks of government negotiations, the government program was published on Friday, 16 June 2023. The program has included several guidelines in accordance with the goals of Finnish Association of Vision and Eyecare NÄE ry, which, if implemented, may also revolutionise access to treatment in eye healthcare.

In accordance with the government program, the new government aims to curb the growth of health and social care expenses. The common message of business organisations about the necessity of opening up costs is clearly entered into the government program.

“Cost transparency is the key to all developments. Without accurate information about the costs of the welfare regions’ own production, it is impossible to make sustainable decisions about the division of labour between public and private sectors. The current situation is now undergoing a much-needed change”, thanks Panu Tast, CEO of NÄE ry.

There is also a clear entry of improving access to treatment in the government program. NÄE ry’s goal of increasing the provision of service vouchers has been heard, because the government program states directly that if the customer does not receive the public service they need within the treatment guarantee period, they have the right to receive a service voucher or payment commitment for the service offered by another service provider.

“The entry greatly improves the situation of citizens suffering from eye diseases. At the present time, many eye disease treatment procedures and controls are lagging badly behind, even if there is plenty of capacity available in the private sector. The private sector, with its existing investments, can now be put to intensive use alongside the public sector for the benefit of the patient. An excellent addition is also the possibility in the future to pay on top of the value of the service voucher for an additional service with your own money”, Tast delights.

NÄE ry considers entries for clarifying the division of labour of healthcare personnel to eye healthcare customers to be very important. “Finland has been imprisoned by outdated, non-medical restrictions on optometrists for decades. It has unnecessarily shifted the focus of basic eye healthcare services to specialist-led services, which has increased the costs of both individuals and society. The comprehensive reform of the Professional Personnel Act, with only necessary and proportionate restrictions, included in the government program, will undoubtedly consign this problem to history as well,” says Tast.

Making the distribution of medicine more equitable was one of NÄE ry’s central goals. In accordance with the government program, the pharmacy system will be developed and, among other things, the sale of over-the-counter medicines would also be allowed to non-pharmacies.

“For the most part, the reform of the distribution of medicine is half-baked. It must definitely take into account the equal status of different actors. The spirit at the present time seems to be that more healthcare activities will be enabled for pharmacies, but the regulatory train does not seem to be moving in the other direction at all. Competition for basic health services is welcome, but if healthcare is opened up to pharmacies, the distribution of medication should also be opened up to healthcare operators. From this point of view, we will closely monitor the progress of reforming of the pharmacy system,” says Tast.

NÄE ry also considers the government’s program entries to curb the activities of publicly owned in-house companies when they compete with private companies in competitive markets to be very good. “Increasing competition in public procurements brings significant savings in social and healthcare and increases regional vitality”, concludes Tast.

More information:
Panu Tast, CEO, Finnish Association of Vision and Eyecare NÄE ry
tel. +358 29 3000 901, panu.tast@naery.fi