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Belgium's health minister wants stricter language rules for doctors

16:50 23/08/2023

Belgium's federal health minister Frank Vandenbroucke is calling for stricter rules to ensure doctors speak their patients' language properly.

Vandenbroucke is drawing up new regulations to that end, saying that the number of foreign doctors practising medicine in Belgium has passed the 10,000 mark.

While legislation already exists in this area, Vandenbroucke said it could be more conclusive and is therefore asking his administration to prepare regulatory changes to require knowledge of one of Belgium’s three national languages.

European regulations will have to be taken into account and proportionality will also apply, meaning not all healthcare providers will be subject to the same language requirements, especially those who have little or no contact with patients.

Vandenbroucke also pointed out that he has increased the quota of doctors for the second year running.

“The federated entities indicated before the summer that they would follow this proposal,” he said.

“I therefore call on them to make the best possible use of their sub-quota powers to train enough GPs, psychiatrists, geriatricians and others. In this way, we can eliminate shortages in a number of disciplines.”

The N-VA party urged the minister to take action in view of the number of Flemish patients being admitted to Brussels hospitals, only to be met with doctors who only speak French.

“Flemish people cannot be treated as second-class citizens in Brussels or discriminated against on the basis of their language,” said Flemish MP Karl Vanlouwe.

Written by Helen Lyons



"stricter rules to ensure doctors speak their patients' language properly." What if the patient speaks a language other than the 3 official Belgian languages as is the case with many people in Brussels?

Aug 28, 2023 11:48