Coronavirus: Doctors need paid for telephone consultations

Coronavirus: Doctors need paid for telephone consultations
Credit: Belga

Belgium’s federation of medical unions, the ABSyM, has called for funds to be earmarked for paying doctors for telephone consultations with people suspected of contracting the new coronavirus (Covid-19).

The ABSyM (Association Belge des Syndicats Médicaux) said on Wednesday it had submitted the request to the national health insurance agency, INAMI. Having a special budget “seems indispensable today since phone consultations are replacing both the normal consultations and home visits, and doctors are dedicating much of their time to them.”

A doctor can issue a medical certificate following a check-up done on the phone rather than a physical consultation, so, for the ABSyM, it goes without saying that the doctors should receive a fee for their work. The association said it would soon submit a concrete proposal in this regard to Health Minister Maggie De Block (Open Vld)

“If dealing with the pandemic leads to an increased number of ordinary consultations, additional resources will be needed,” the federation stressed. “It would be unacceptable to hold doctors responsible, at the end of the year, for this unexpected budget increase linked to the coronavirus,” it added. “Additional resources will also need to be earmarked to cater for increased admissions to the emergency services, for classic hospitalisations and for coronavirus screening tests.”

In this regard, the ABSyM noted that the Federal Government had not yet announced any supplementary budget for dealing with Covid-19, contrary to other affected countries.

The federation has also urged the authorities to supply people quickly with face masks and other protective gear. “There are still big question marks around the delivery date for the equipment and the quantities being supplied,” ABSyM President Philippe Devos said. “Without protective gear, the propagation risk will increase exponentially,” Devos warned.

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