HS Turku | Turku tried to break up treatment queues with a tipping device – now the city is threatened with tens of tons of fines

Last year, the city of Turku bought services from private health companies without tendering. According to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the city broke the law.

Competitive- and the Finnish Consumer Agency (KKV) proposes a fine of 30,000 euros to the city of Turku for illegal direct procurement. According to KKV, Turku bought services related to colonoscopy examinations from Mehiläi, Pihlajalinna and Suomen Terveystalo without tendering.

The Turku Social and Health Board decided on the purchase last November. It approved the purchase plan, the maximum value of which could be 600,000 euros. KKV noticed the solution and began to investigate its basis. According to the agency, the procurement should have been tendered. On Friday, it sent a proposal to the market court to impose a penalty fee.

Turku did in the difficult situation of the November decision. From the board’s agenda, it is clear that the treatment queues at the gastroenterology outpatient clinic were about to explode. The head doctor of the department was unexpectedly going on leave and one specialist doctor had canceled his return to the department. Soon the polyclinic would practically have only one specialist, and he would be part-time.

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Turku had negotiated the transfer of the polyclinic to the responsibility of Turku University Central Hospital (Tyks), but Tyks’s demand was to shorten treatment queues first. It was described to the board that “the queues for gastrointestinal endoscopy examinations have grown unbearably long”.

Production manager of Turku Laura Saurama says that it was precisely the lack of doctors that caused a chain reaction, which had to be reacted to quickly.

“We are trying to recruit more people and thereby get the queues under control. But the situation started to progress in the opposite direction.”

The board’s agenda also stated that “we had not had time to request offers from suitable suppliers”. In this situation, the board considered that services can be purchased without bidding.

KKV no however, swallowed the grounds of Turku. According to the Procurement Act, extreme urgency must be caused by an external, sudden and unpredictable circumstance. In the case of Turku, this was not the case, according to the agency.

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“For us, the situation was sudden, although in hindsight, legally, the matter can be viewed differently,” Saurama defends himself.

According to him, the direct procurement decision was made with the patients’ interests in mind.

Turku has been struggling with health care difficulties on a large scale recently. Throughout the spring, the city has been in the headlines, for example, due to serious recruitment challenges.

Read more: Turku, driven into disaster, began to compete for caregivers with commitment money – “We want to say yes to this”

The social and health board also knew already in November that the queues for treatment in gastroenterology had stretched badly for a long time. For example, in the previous year, approximately 2,000 examinations had been performed in Turku, while fulfilling the treatment guarantee would have required approximately 2,800 examinations per year.

The care guarantee was not fulfilled and Turku had previously had to rely on purchase services.

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The gastroenterology outpatient clinic in Turku was finally transferred to the responsibility of the Varsinais-Suomen hospital district at the beginning of May.

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