Flemish Brabant people can now go to a Dutch speaking hospital, even if it is far away

From now on, patients from Flemish Brabant who are transported by ambulance may specifically choose a Dutch speaking hospital. The problem was located in West Brussels, among other things, where patients were often taken to French-speaking hospitals in Uccle and Anderlecht. Furthermore, the Sint-Elisabethziekenhuis in Ukel is no longer included in the list of Dutch-speaking hospitals.

Flemish Brabant patients taken to hospital by ambulance can now choose not to be taken to the nearest hospital if they speak French and speak Dutch themselves.

Patients can choose a Dutch speaking hospital, provided the additional driving time is a maximum of 12 minutes.

The problem is not only in the western district of Brussels, but also in the Vineyard (southeast of Brussels), where patients are often brought to Saint-Luc in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.

Only 12 percent of people from Hoillert in Druivenstreek are taken by ambulance to a Dutch-speaking hospital. For Overijse it is 13, for Sint-Genesius-Rode it is 12.

In North Flemish Brabant, the problem was less: these patients often went to the Dutch-speaking UZ Jette hospital.

It is not a societal issue

“We get a lot of complaints from people,” says Jan Sporen, governor of Flemish Brabant. “People cannot clearly explain their health problems to caregivers, which sometimes leads to traumatic and horrific situations. Language is not a societal issue here: it is about people’s safety and health.”

To solve the problem, the province has developed a number of measures. According to legal rules, patients must be taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, but now Flemish Brabant patients can choose to be taken to a Dutch speaking hospital.

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The conditions are that the additional driving time is a maximum of 12 minutes and that the patient’s health condition allows for a longer trip. Simulations by the county showed that a patient from anywhere in western Brussels and in Druivenstreek could get to a Dutch-speaking hospital with the extra driving time.

Patients from Druivenstreek can be transferred to hospitals in Leuven, and patients from the western region to AZ Sint-Maria in Halle. Furthermore, agreements have been made between hospitals in Flemish Brabant and the Federal Health Inspectorate regarding the discontinuation of patients.

In the past, hospitals would announce patient pauses at busy times, but in order to get the 12-minute system to work properly, pauses in admissions are now out of the question.

The list has been updated

Finally, the list of Dutch-speaking hospitals has also been updated: Sint-Elisabethziekenhuis in Uccle is no longer in it.

The new rules have been in force since the beginning of this year and are now being communicated more widely to local authorities and emergency services.

The management of the 112th Center and the Federal Health Inspector came to give an explanation on Friday, proposing a communications package that local authorities could use to further distribute information to their citizens.

Megan Vasquez

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