Parliament, please! Fix the FSHS!

Every student knows that the Finnish Student Health Service, or FSHS among friends, is experiencing quite the pile-up. Appointments and care are difficult to get. The situation is especially bad in the FSHS’s central area, which Tampere is a part of. In January 2023 in the FSHS central service area, it took approximately 79 days to see a general practitioner after making your appointment. For now, that is within the bounds of the care guarantee (90 days), but it is still an unacceptably long time to wait for care. When comparing the service areas, the western service area has the “best” wait times – it took approximately 28 days to see a general practitioner in January.

This is often where things get misconstrued. More often than not, the FSHS itself offers great care and skilled service. In addition to their skills, the nurses and doctors have also learned to care for a special group called students. So, if you can get in, you’ll get good care. The problem lies deeper under the surface, within the machinery of FSHS financing.

The are two parts that form the FSHS’s financing: one is the students’ tax-like healthcare fee, and the rest is covered by government funds. The healthcare fees’ share of the funding is 23%, and the other 77% is government-funded. Due to the set percentiles, it’s challenging to increase FSHS funding to better serve demand in the long run without raising the healthcare fee. Because of this, the FSHS is a rather clumsy organisation when it comes to rapid changes in demand, like the significant increase in demand for mental health services during the covid crisis. There have been some attempts to amend supplying the demand with project-based grants, but that is hardly a long-term solution to what is a very concerning situation. We can’t continue slapping band-aids on an open wound.

So, what does all this have to do with the parliamentary election? To improve the Health Service’s situation, its funding needs to increase. Quickly. Members of parliament: During your next term, you must amend the law on student healthcare for students in higher education and make the proper changes to its funding. According to several political analyses, many parties are luckily interested in students’ wellbeing and in solving the mental health crisis. Especially since, if the situation isn’t fixed, overburdened students will only become overburdened employees. We must hope that amending the funding and increasing the government’s share is seen as a direct solution to these issues, and that there is true political will to increase funding.

As I am ever the optimist, I want to end all this by sharing a dream of mine – which is, of course, an FSHS that is free for students, has no backlog, and runs smoothly. A Health Service that offers a variety of services from basic healthcare to specialist services. An FSHS, that seamlessly attends to its clients from all kinds of backgrounds in both Finnish and English. And the next Finnish Government has the opportunity to take the first step in this right direction.