80% of Belgians see their GP at least once a year, and 95% of patients feel their doctor spends enough time with them during their appointments, according to results of the National Health Survey undertaken by ISP (Public Health Institute). Approximately 11,000 people were interviewed as part of this 2013 study. It showed that patients who see a specialist, generally do it directly, without seeking a GP referral. This was shown to be especially true among more educated patients: “Patients initiate 63% of appointments with consultants, and that figure is higher for university graduates. Only 25% of consultant visits (in every field) follow a GP referral.”
As for emergency services, 13% of the population went to A&E in the year prior to the poll. In 76% of cases this was done without GP referral.
More youths (aged 6 to 18) are visiting a dental surgery than 10 years ago. In 2004, 63% of young people went to the dentist once a year, whereas 80% do so in 2013.
Although Belgians are notorious for their high intake of sleeping pills and painkillers, they are taking fewer now than in 2008, except in Flanders where the figures remain stable. Consumption of these pills is still relatively high amongst the elderly: 20% of those aged 75 and over said they had taken sleeping pills and/or painkillers in the previous 24 hours.
The report was commissioned by the various Health Ministers in Belgium and aims to collate all the data collected on how social and health services are being used.