The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EUIF) will finance the operation of at least 102 ambulance squads, i.e. the de facto number of squads currently in operation, across Estonia in 2018.
Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) has signed a regulation raising the minimum number of ambulance squads to 102 and canceling the previous regulation which set the minimum number of squads at 95.
A total of 102 ambulance squads has been operating in Estonia since 2015, six of which are resuscitation teams and the remainder of which are headed by a doctor or nurse. Each squad consists of three members.
Since the number of squads was increased, ambulance response times dropped to an average of 14.4 minutes in rural areas and 7.6 minutes in urban areas, according to the explanatory notes accompanying the draft regulation. The number of teams had to be raised in order to cut response times in urgent cases to belo 21 minutes in rural areas and 12 minutes in urban areas, in accordance with international practice.
As of Jan. 1, the EHIF will take over responsibility for financing ambulance services across the country. Existing ambulance service agreements between the Health Boards and service operators, as well as the terms and conditions contained therein, will remain valid through the end of 2018. After that point, it will be the EHIF that concludes agreements with ambulance service operators.
A total of €40.07 million is to be transferred into the EHIF budget in connection with the funding of ambulance services, accounting for approximately four percent of the fund's total budget.
Editor: Aili Vahtla