Despite campaigns designed to dissuade us from doing so, an ever increasing number of people in Belgium is using the services of hospital accident and emergency departments rather than general practitioners.
This trend is costing RIZIV dear. Last year the accident and emergency departments in Belgium’s hospitals dealt with 4.45 million patients, 3.67% more than in 2013.
The increase follows a trend set in recent years. Most of the patients treated went straight to A&E without a referral from a G.P. A quarter of the visits to A&E are at the weekend or on public holidays, especially at night.
Many patients apparently view A&E as an out of hours stand-by service. This attitude is proving expensive, not least because an doctor that works at an A&E department earns more than a general practitioner.
Last year A&E cost Federal Health and Invalidity Insurance Institute a total of 85.11 million euro, 5% more than in 2013 and 40% more than in 2009.