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All Belgian caregivers must speak at least one national language

09:50 29/01/2024

In the future, caregivers in Belgium will be required to prove that they speak at least one of the country’s three official languages: Dutch, French or German.

The requirement comes from a draft law on language skills for healthcare providers that the council of ministers approved in a first reading before the weekend, according to the office of Belgium’s public health minister, Frank Vandenbroucke.

The language requirement will be included in the law on the quality of healthcare.

“This is an important step forward for the patient, for better and safer care,” Vandenbroucke said.

“But it is just as important for the care providers themselves: in future, carers will work even more often in teams than they do today, and the importance of communication between them will only increase.”

In practical terms, when a healthcare professional applies for a work visa as a carer, they will have to be able to demonstrate that they speak at least one of the official national languages.

The level of language required will depend on the role of the care provider, with required levels divided into four categories: C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages for care providers with a basic diploma at Master's level; B2 for care providers with a basic diploma at Bachelor's level; B1 for care providers with a basic diploma below Bachelor's level and A2 for care assistants and ambulance drivers for non-emergency patient transport.

For care providers already in post, knowledge of one of the national languages will also become a point of attention when assessing the quality of practice. Exceptions may be made.

Photo: Dirk Waem/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons