A total of 56 nurses also joined as plaintiffs in the case, brought against the Belgian state as well as the federal public health services (FPS Santé), which is under the authority of the federal health minister, Maggie De Block.
The plaintiffs accuse the state of negligence towards health care staff, particularly toward nurses, as well as for “lack of foresight” and “endangerment” during the coronavirus crisis, Le Vif reports.
Both federations said that they repeatedly sought to alert De Block and health authorities of “difficult and dangerous situations” in hospitals and nursing homes as well as those lived by health staff providing home care.
“All these attempts were in vain,” the federations said, claiming that calls for more protective material, for systematic testing and for psychological support received no reply and “no consideration from the part of the minister.”
Both federations also addressed a letter to the federal pensions minister, Daniel Bacquelaine, requesting that nursing be recognised as an arduous profession, a category which opens up increased retirement benefits.
The lawsuit comes after several protests in Brussels and Wallonia at the weekend drew hundreds of health care workers to the street to call out the underfunding of the country’s social security.