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    Belgian hospitals still faced with “financial fragility”

    The hundred or so general hospitals in Belgium produced an income surplus of 106 million euros last year, 30% lower than in 2014, the Model for Automatic Hospital Analysis study, published yesterday (Monday) by Belfius shows. The authors of the study say that the financial fragility of clinical establishments is still evident.

    More than one in three institutions (32 out of 91) presently have a negative result, or 7 institutions more than in 2014. However there were 39 hospitals showing a deficit in 2013.

    Taken as a whole, establishments were generating a sufficient cash flow. Only 13, compared with 17 in 2014, had insufficient cash-flow to cover debts falling due within year.

    General hospital turnover increased last year to 14 billion euros, a 2,7% increase. This increase was, in particular, supported by the development of pharmaceutical products (+7,3%), mainly within the oncology sphere.

    Investments within this sector continued, with an increase of 1.4 billion euros last year.

    Those running the study say, “During the last four years, new buildings have become operational, thus contributing to improving hospital infrastructure and therefore hospital accommodation.”

    They go on, “The corollary to this high investment is that financial debt has greatly increased, from 33.2% in 2012 to 36.4% in 2015.”

    The increase in investments last year was more marked at infrastructure level (an increase of 7% for property and buildings) than at the medical material level (an increase 3.2%).

    The increase in hospital admissions is led by geriatric services (with a 7% increase) whilst pediatrics and maternity have both seen respective decreases of -0,8% and -2,7%.

    The ageing population has also seen an increase in the number of geriatric beds by 20% over five years.

    The average length of hospital stay continues its slight reduction (by 1.2%) having a stable occupancy rate of 71%.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times