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Treatment Guarantee applies also to Student's Health Care Foundation

Student should have received dental treatment within six months at the latest

17.9.2010

Ylioppilaiden terveydenhoitosäätiö (The Students' Health Care Foundation YTHS) has made an incorrect interpretation that it would not be obliged to comply with the Treatment Guarantee's deadlines in health care for students. Such an interpretation is not lawful, points out Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen.

The complaint to the Ombudsman was made by a student who had been told that he would have to wait a year to see a dentist at the Tampere-Hämeenlinna health care unit. Difficulty in recruiting dentists was cited as the reason for the length of the waiting list.

The Ombudsman points out that the student's right to the adequate health services that are guaranteed in the Constitution was not implemented when he did not receive treatment within the period that the Treatment Guarantee requires.

Treatment must be provided within three months or six at the latest

The provisions of the Primary Health Care Act concerning the Treatment Guarantee require that treatment which has been deemed medically or dentally necessary must be arranged within a reasonable time taking the patient's state of health and the foreseeable development of the illness into consideration, but within three months of the need for treatment having been assessed.

This three-month maximum period may in the case of oral health treatment be exceeded by not more than three months if, for medical, treatment-related or other comparable justified reasons the provision of treatment can be postponed without endangering the patient's state of health.

YTHS responsible for student health care in 19 localities

YTHS has assumed responsibility for student health care services that would otherwise be taken care of by municipalities. Its position as an organiser of student health care is founded on the Primary Health Care Act and contracts that it has concluded with municipalities. The contracts are approved by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

When YTHS performs tasks that are included in basis security of health care, it must produce the services in such a way that they correspond quantitatively and qualitatively to the statutorily required level, the Ombudsman points out. Thus it is obliged to observe also the deadlines required by the Treatment Guarantee.

The requirements of the law can not be deviated from through contracts

According to YTHS's interpretation, the contracts do not require application of the Treatment Guarantee legislation; instead, they make it possible to deviate from the service totality that a contract covers when necessity demands.

The Ombudsman points out that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and municipalities must ensure that the text of a contract does not conflict with the Act.

Additional info will be provided by Senior Legal Adviser Kaija Tanttinen-Laakkonen, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3377.