Monday, 9 November 2009

Who's in charge?

I have been quite satisfied with the Finnish health care system, especially the use of family doctors.

Instead of seeing someone else every time you go to see a doctor, like when I first moved here, you today get to see the same one who already knows you, and about you, and you don't have to "tell everything from the beginning all over" about yourself. And there is of course the language question, being a foreigner, I am very comfortable with my "old" doctor.

So, when moving, if you do not choose your new address well, you have either change doctors or take charge of your affairs, which is not easy I tell you, and me having moved again of course imposed new stress to the system, but as I am now quite well schooled in paper pushing Finnish style I got to keep my old family doctor, which was a major achievement I tell you. If anything, it takes faith to stick to your guns.

When trying to get something done in Finland, bureaucratically I mean and this seems to apply to everything, the hardest thing normally is to find the person who is in charge. And according to my experience so far, this applies to most of municipal and governemental authorities. Everybody you talk to, you have to explain the whole thing, and then they just pass you along to someone else and you have to go through the whole story once again. Seems like the whole idea is to wear people off.

Doing these inquiries by phone seems to be the most reliable way to go on about it, as turning up in person, the person you want to talk to might not be available at the time present, and you will definitively have to return later. Letters take ages too long to get answered, sometimes even months if you are lucky enough to get an answer in the first place, and e-mail inquiries are not always even answered "as safety precaution", anyway, that is the reason you never get an answer by e-mail. There is actually an "accustomed time to answer" according to Finnish law, but I have yet not been able to establish the exact durance of it.

So, you have to get past your language problem, and it is much easier to get by in broken Finnish or even bad English instead of trying the "second national language". Take it from me, I have tried, and it is a great disadvantage, you just get passed around from phone to phone as nobody wants to talk to you until you get tired and hang up.

So first, various inquiries to the authority in question are needed to find out who to turn to. Then finding out what kind of paper work you might need filled in is a completely different matter. If you're lucky there might be some form you can fill in available on-line and print out.

Now having done all the required questionnaire answering, or letter writing and signing it, you then hand in, or post it, to the authority in question, and wait. The longer you wait the more important the authority seems to be and if you're lucky your request is granted instead of being turned down.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can always appeal against it, and that takes years, or at least so I have heard. Makes you wanna give up to begin with.

Anyway, about a month ago, the President of Finland and the Finnish Prime minister apparently both were surprised to on the news learn about the Finnish UN peacekeepers coming home from Afghanistan.

This incident was in the media called a "lapse in information". The President and the Prime minister had apparently not been properly informed in the matter by the minister of defense, as they were "left out in the cold" and learned the facts the hard way, something unheard of anywhere else but in Finland. Well, in this case the Finnish foreign minister was diplomatic enough to take most of the blame.

But still fact remains, Finland is in a unique situation constitutionally, as the foreign policy is not in just one hands but divided between the responsibility of more than one and maybe some clarifying in who's responsible for what is needed, to know who is in charge.

Or else the right hand does not seem to know what the left hand is on about and we're in for a real hot stirred up soup, sooner or later.


  1. I really like reading your entries. I live in America and am very interested in Finland and life there. I find that your blog covers almost everything I could ever wonder about living there.

    Very interesting article on the healthcare.


  2. Well thank you very much, LJ!
    I am glad to hear that my Blog writings are also appreciated in the US.
    Wishing you a nice day,