Health minister: Worst nursing shortage in 15 years – but "system has not collapsed" – YLE News

The lack of nurses is complicating eldercare in particular, but the summer will be manageable, said Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP).
The social and health care system will cope with this summer despite the staffing shortfall, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP) told Yle on Wednesday.
He noted that many municipalities have had serious problems in finding enough temporary workers to replace full-time personnel during the summer holiday period.
"For the most part, it’s working; the care system has not collapsed. The total number of hospital staff is sufficient to get by," Lindén said on Yle Radio 1’s Ykkösaamu.
The nursing deficit is still the worst in 15 years, Lindén said, adding that 10,000–15,000 more nurses are needed. The minister, a physician himself, said he is most concerned about care for the elderly.
"If you have to queue for more than a month for a small surgical procedure, it may not be so long in a person’s life. But yes, our care for the elderly must be in order at all times," he said.
According to Lindén, the number of nursing staff has not decreased but rather increased in recent years, but the number is not keeping pace with the need for care.
According to Lindén, "all stones must be turned" to address the labour shortage that plagues the social and health sectors. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health launched a project at the beginning of this year to review how the situation could be resolved.
According to Lindén, there are several alternative solutions such as reorganising work, developing technology, improving work culture and management and increasing training places.
Lindén does not see work-based immigration as a saviour for the care sector.
"I don’t see it as an easy solution, or as the most important solution," he said.
Lindén said that it will take years to resolve the labour shortage in the care sector.
Contract disputes continue in the social and health sectors. A ban on overtime and shift work in the private social services sector began on Tuesday, and negotiations in the municipal sector are still in progress.
"All labour struggles have been resolved over time. I hope that solutions will be found here too. I strongly appeal to the various parties to find a solution," Lindén urged.
According to Lindén, the coronavirus situation is good given the circumstances. Among other metrics, the need for hospital care and the number of deaths have been declining in recent weeks.
Last Thursday, when the THL last updated its statistics, there were 351 patients being treated in hospital for Covid, with 13 of them in intensive care.
The death toll stood at 4,771. That includes patients with Covid whose main cause of death may have been some other condition.
There have been some warnings of a possible new wave of infections this summer, but Lindén said there are no indications of one yet, despite a slight rise in confirmed infections.
"I think it will more likely happen in August-September," Lindén predicted.
Lindén has been the second health minister since February, overseeing Covid issues among other duties. He shares the health portfolio with Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen (Left).
Covid wanes, healthcare staff shortages continue30.5
Number of Covid patients in ICUs drops to 9-month low26.5
Sources: Yle
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