Increasing use of subcontractors worries Health Minister

Increasing use of subcontractors worries Health Minister
Credit: Belga

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said on Monday that he was “deeply concerned” about the increasing use of subcontracted healthcare staff at the expense of general hospital funding, and called on people to file complaints with the labour inspection bureau.

However, he stopped short of envisaging a complete ban on “project financing,” as urged by the Christian ACV federation.

Zorgnet-Icuro, a Flemish network of health care organisations, sounded the alarm on Monday morning, when it noted that interim agencies have been luring more and more healthcare and nursing staff away from permanent employment.

These employees then go to work in hospitals as temps or project nurses for better pay and working conditions. This costs the hospitals one and a half to two times as much, the healthcare umbrella organisation warned.

Health Minister Vandenbroucke said he was “very concerned” about this development.

No ban on project funding, though

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, a complaint to the labour inspection bureau was “the best weapon” against such practices.

He called on people who find that subcontracted staff are being used for regular, daily healthcare tasks in hospitals to file such complaints.

However, a complete ban on project funding, as called for by the ACV-Puls union, was “not a foregone conclusion,” the minister said.

“We do not want to make innovative projects completely impossible because they are important for the quality of care,” he explained.

Vandenbroucke stressed, nevertheless, that the €402 million the government is investing through the healthcare personnel fund during this legislature cannot be used to employ subcontractors.

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