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    GPs critical of government information on coronavirus

    The president of the Belgian college of general practitioners has criticised the government for its policy on providing information to front-line doctors affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

    Thomas Orban in particular took aim at federal health minister Maggie De Block, herself a GP.

    There is no concertation between the federal cabinet and GPs. There just isn’t,” he said.

    The communications situation is badly managed from every point of view. That confuses the situation and makes people afraid instead of reassuring them. It is important, in a crisis situation, To keep your front-line people – family doctors – up to date. It’s rather shocking that this is not being done.”

    As an example, he pointed to instructions issued to GPs by the health ministry, which advised doctors to receive patients in their offices and to wear a mask.

    That doesn’t seem to me to be very applicable, except perhaps for those few doctors who have been able to find masks. In Brussels, for example, I don’t think there are any masks left at all.”
    RTL TV contacted De Block’s office for a reaction, but was directed to the regional health ministers who are nominally in charge of front-line health care, namely GPs and pharmacies. De Block, however, is in charge of managing the situation on a national level.

    Yesterday it became clear that her proposal to manufacture face-masks for doctors in Belgium was not going to be possible in the short term, if ever.

    At the same time, Orban’s criticism was backed by the federation of GPs in Charleroi, which issued a statement deploring “the distressing immobility of the state in the management of Covid-19 and the lack of material means available to general practitioners.”

    This morning, Pierre Bets, vice-president of the federation, called on GPs to demonstrate at 16.00 this afternoon in the city.

    The main problem we are criticising is the lack of basic materials for us to carry out lab tests. All GPs are feeling anxious but also exasperated at the lack of resources. We are in agreement that we need to be in the front line, mainly to prevent emergency services from being over-run, but to do that we need to be given the necessary materials.”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times