Although its population is only five million, in 1985 Finland generated more new high technology companies than the USA, performed more renal transplants than Russia, and had five medical schools and twenty universities. Finland’s State-funded health service is subsidised by patients who pay up to 5% of their costs.

In Helsinki the Meilahti and University Central Hospitals were visited in 1988, and we also went by train to Turku where Professor Niinikoski chaired the presentations, including aortic root ectasia which is found amongst the population of the Archipelago, who are screened with ultra-sound. Happily we did not need to speak Finnish – described as “impossible to speak, difficult to read and not easy to imagine” – as excellent English was spoken by our hosts, chief of whom was coloproctologist Dr Heikki Jarvinen, whose wife was a Professor of Psychology in Helsinki.