Belgium medical care is extremely good, and easy to access, once you know how. If you need immediate medical care get permission before you go get – form SR2 or SR1 if you have not had time to get permission. These can be obtained from the European Cross Border healthcare Team NHS EnglandFosse House, 6 Smith Way Grove Park, Enderby Leicestershire, LE19 1SX
But do check if they receive your application.
You will make life easier for yourself if you prepare your medical file before leaving the UK.
Your GP will have a summary of your computer records – ask him if you may have a copy. Medical records, by law, are accessible to you.
If these notes cover a few pages, use a marker pen to outline the important milestones, or make a brief summary. Ensure you have list of your medication – and a reasonable supply. Make a copy of these to give your new Belgium doctor. If you take part in any government health schemes, like routine breast examinations, make sure you know when they are next due.
If you have complex hospital notes you can obtain them – it costs £50 at present unless it is within 40 days of being written up when that information is free. Your local PCT is the contact here. You need to take original documents with you to collect them. If you intend to ask for the notes by post, you will need to get you documents verified by a person of standing – which may be easier to do in the UK where you are known. You will need two types of identification from:
You also need proof of address – one of the following:
You will need to register with a doctor, who is the equivalent of UK GPs. You may find that in Belgium, the doctor runs his or her practice without the aid of nurses, receptionists, health visitors or anyone else. He keeps his own records – which may or may not be on computer, files the notes, makes his appointments, taking your money and everything else. They may give you the notes to keep, although the letters from the consultants go directly to your doctor, as in the UK.
The Health Insurance – Mutuelle or Mutualities act as collective agencies for the national social security offices. Once you have registered, they send you a social security identity card (SIS) to you, which you will need for all medical contacts and prescriptions at the pharmacy. You can pay extra for extra levels of cover, eg hospital admissions.
Your P111 which you apply for in the UK does cover you for basic care, but the Belgium system relies upon insurance, and it is through them that you get a discount for prescriptions and medical care. Your GP will charge you so much, and your insurance will pay the rest.
This can be a little daunting the first time, as you don’t know where to go or what you need to do. The language will be that of the area in which the hospital is, although many are bilingual and English may also be used.
Your first stop will be to register and pay. Have your SIS and ID cards with you, as well as a credit card or cash. Sometimes they take the money then, other times you will get an invoice, together with a green form you to send to your Mutuelle. From here you will be directed to the right waiting area for your appointment. Leave enough time to park (can be difficult) as well as register.
Try to keep a check on what is happening as the doctors, while excellent, seem to work in isolation, and information from one clinic may not be readily available in the next hospital.
Just as in the UK there are district nurses and heath visitors, your doctor will tell you how to access them.
Medical care in Belgium is good, but it is up to you to make the transfer as easy as possible.
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