The Belgian Association of Medical Unions (ABSyM) has welcomed the federal government’s decision to grant hospitals one billion euros in emergency financing to help them to keep operating through the coronavirus crisis.
“The corona epidemic is forcing hospitals, and the doctors and other healthcare staff who work there, to implement emergency plans which are having a major but unforeseeable impact on their normal activities,” the association said in a statement.
The financial support comes in the form of a Treasury Advance – a sort of credit line backed by the government. It forms part of a package of measures valued at €8 to €10 billion, agreed by the government to guard the economy from the negative effects of the epidemic.
“One the one hand, the hospitals are suffering a loss in income from the cancellation of planned consultations and interventions,” said Dr. Philippe Devos, president of the association.
“On the other hand, the implementation of emergency plans impose on hospitals additional costs for material, staff and coverage for the loss of normal activity. The financial resources which hospitals normally have available are not sufficient to cope with the impact of the pandemic.”
“Our healthcare workers are indispensable in the fight against Covid-19,” federal health minister Maggie De Block said in a statement.
“So as to guarantee that the hospitals are able to pay their staff we have decided to grant an advance of one billion euros, to allow them to avoid payment problems. Our administrations will now work to make concrete the means of sharing the advance, and to examine how we might support others care providers during this difficult time.”
“The advance of one billion euros will allow hospitals access to sufficient liquidity to continue to face up to their costs,”
Among the other economic measures included in the €10 billion package are the costs of benefits for temporary unemployment, mortgage repayment postponement, tax postponement and guarantees for bridging loans for business.