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Ambulance and quality of health services

Ambulance is a health care service intended for the primary diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening illnesses, injuries or poisonings, and, if necessary, for the transport of people in need to a hospital. Ambulance operates around the clock and is intended to provide emergency medical care outside the premises of health care providers.

Anyone in the territory of the Republic of Estonia has the right to receive ambulance service and it is free of charge for people in need. In Estonia, the emergency number 112 is used to call an ambulance.

Ambulance is paid from the state budget through the Ministry of Social Affairs, but, on a daily basis, emergency medical care is organised by the Health Board. For this purpose, the Health Board concludes contracts for the provision of ambulance with the providers of ambulance services who have won a public procurement.


Quality of health services

According to the definition by the World Health Organisation, health services are considered to be of high quality if they meet the professionally accepted requirements, legislative, and ethical principles of the society, needs and expectations of the people, and ensure the well-being of patients and the best possible results, and if they are provided by following the principle of maximum results at the lowest possible cost.

In 2002, the state introduced the quality standards for health services to ensure the quality of health services provided to people in situations where health services are provided only by private legal entities. For the same purpose, a surveillance system has been set up to monitor the activities of health services providers.

The tasks related to the quality assurance of health services are shared between the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Health Board, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, health services providers, specialist associations of health care professionals, and educational institutions.

  • The role of health service providers is to secure and develop the quality of health care, reduce the risks associated with the provision of health care, and regularly evaluate patients’ satisfaction with the services provided. Contributing to the development of health care professionals and the annual training of health care professionals to increase their competence are also expected.
  • Professional associations are responsible for developing the requirements for the competence of health care professionals and evaluating the competence of health care professionals. They participate in various workshops (in drafting legislation, new regulations or standards of treatment) as substantive experts.
  • The Estonian Health Insurance Fund is guided by the aim of health insurance, purchases high-quality health care services, and verifies the validity of the services. The Health Insurance Fund is engaged in a number of activities supporting and developing quality.
  • The Estonian Health Insurance Fund may be contacted in case you are dissatisfied with the availability of health care (waiting lists/financing/waiting lists) and  if you have a question about or wish to give feedback on health insurance benefits and health insurance issues.
  • The Department of Surveillance of the Health Board examines and evaluates the compliance or the so-called structural quality of the provision of health services. The Department of Surveillance of the Health Board may start a monitoring procedure based on the patient’s complaint depending on the circumstances of the complaint. The response is based on the limits set out in the law by addressing compliance with the formal qualification requirements by the health service provider, even in the cases where the supervision procedure was carried out on a wider scale. The Health Board cannot give an assessment on the substantive quality of the health service.

    Applications can be sent to: Terviseamet, Paldiski mnt 81, 10617 Tallinn, or by e-mail: An electronically sent application must be digitally signed.
  • The purpose of the Ministry of Social Affairs together with the institutions of the field is to ensure the availability, quality, and safety of health services through health policy as well as people’s awareness of and satisfaction with health services.
  • The expert committee on the quality of health services established by the Minister of Social Affairs has advisory rights and provides an independent assessment on the substantive quality of the health services provided to the patient. Applications can be sent to Suur-Ameerika 1, 10122 Tallinn, or by e-mail in a digitally signed form to:


Last updated: 2 August 2018