Shortage of Dutch-speaking doctors in Brussels raises concerns

Shortage of Dutch-speaking doctors in Brussels raises concerns
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More Dutch-speaking General Practitioners (GPs) are retiring than are being replaced in Brussels, prompting concerns about a growing shortage of them in the Belgian capital.

In 2019, only 155 GPs in the Brussels region were registered on the Dutch language roll, and only 23 of those names were added in the last ten years, according to reporting from Bruzz.

“There is an acute need for additional efforts to strengthen the Dutch-speaking GP network in Brussels,” said Flemish MP Annabel Tavernier, who monitors the Dutch-speaking services and Flemish welfare policy in Brussels.

Tavernier blames the GGC (the Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie), which is the local representative of the Flemish authorities in the Brussels-Capital Region.

“It is especially the GGC that, as the organising authority of the care field in Brussels, is completely failing to give Dutch a meaningful role in the entire Brussels care chain,” says Tavernier.

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“There really are districts with a distressing shortage,” Annick Dermine, director of the Huis voor Gezondheid Brussel (House for Health), told Bruzz. “When a Dutch-speaking doctor sets up shop somewhere, he very quickly finds himself with a lot of work. Certainly the Dutch-speaking doctors are disproportionately distributed.”

While the language rolls reflect 155 GPs, it isn’t certain that this number is wholly accurate. Some GPs may be registered on different rolls, or may be bilingual. But more importantly than the numbers, experts say, is that the accessibility of general medicine for Dutch-speaking people is inadequate.

“That there is a shortage is certainly true,” said Vincent Janssens, chairman of the Brussels GP Association. Janssens says the problem is difficult to solve, however, given the nature of the profession.

“Why don't some doctors stay in Brussels? One of the important things I hear is that they have a hard time finding a place to live or, for example, that they can't find a home for their children. Those are possible factors to look at,” Janssens said.

Helen Lyons

The Brussels Times

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