Vandenbroucke is working on stricter language rules for doctors

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Fauroit) is working on new rules to ensure that healthcare providers speak the patient’s language. There is a lot of legislation out there today, says the minister, “but it could be more comprehensive.”

On Monday, Vandenbroek responded to the message that more than 10,000 foreign doctors are active in our country for the first time. The flow is much wider than just from our neighboring countries.

Professor of General Practice Dirk Defroe (VUB) believes it is time to take measures to prevent patients from seeking help from a doctor in their own language in the near future. Minister Vandenbroek replies, “I want doctors to speak the language of the patient and I will make a categorical proposal to that end.”

Private language

The Minister indicates that the patient has the right to receive care in his own language. In June, the minister asked the administration to prepare organizational changes to enforce knowledge of one of the national languages.

However, he noted that European rules should not be overlooked. So it will be one of the three national languages, in which proportion is also important. In other words, the same language requirements will not apply to all caregivers, eg to caregivers who have little or no contact with patients.

Vandenbroek also recalls that he raised the physician quota in our country for the second year in a row. “The federal states announced before the summer that they would follow this proposal. I therefore call on them to make optimal use of their sub-quota powers until enough general practitioners, psychiatrists, geriatricians, etc. are trained. In this way we can make up for the shortfall in a number of specialties.”

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Dutch speaking doctors are required

Brussels-based Flemish Member of Parliament Carl Vanlooy (N-VA) asked that Minister Vandenbroeck also implement his commitment in Brussels hospitals. There, Dutch-speaking patients often cannot be helped with their language. “Patients should also be able to provide service in their own language in Brussels hospitals. Flemish people may not be treated as second-class citizens in Brussels or discriminated against because of their language,” says the N-VA member.

Last year, BRUZZ reported that the number of Dutch-speaking doctors in Brussels was increasing. For example, in four years the number of members of the Brussels General Practitioners Association (BHAK) has increased from 95 to 139. It turns out that Dutch-speaking doctors are also popular with patients who do not speak Dutch. “They often have a different approach than French-speaking doctors, who refer more quickly to a specialist,” BHAK coordinator Hicham VanBorum explained at the time. He has already indicated that as a result new Dutch-speaking patients cannot always go to a Dutch-speaking GP.

Megan Vasquez

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