Blog AnalysisCivil protection

Where has the Brussels crisis hospital gone?

(B2) In the event of an extreme emergency, would the military be able to take over in Belgium. Not sure at all

In 2016, a sorting center was very useful at the time of the attacks

It was five years ago, at the time of the attacks in Brussels and the influx of numerous injured people. After the moment of panic, a good idea was born: making the Neder-Over-Heembeck hospital the first reception and then sorting center for all the injured. Today, if such a situation happened again it would no longer be possible, I am told. Over the course of the dismantling, the military health component has lost part of its human skills. A hospital only has value in daily and repeated practice.

A big absentee during the Covid-19 crisis

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the military hospital was the “ big absentee » of the Belgian crisis response. Even though hospitals were overloaded, he did not respond. Even for the vaccination campaign, its entry into the dance came very late, a bit like a plaster, while all the other centers were already set up and starting to run well.

Why such an absence?

This is due to a slow deterioration of the military health condition in Belgium. Of course we could go back to the 1980s, with six military hospitals (4 in Belgium and 2 in Germany). But it was a different time. That of conscription. At the time, around 100.000 Belgians were under the flag. The suspension of military service in 1992 caused the troops to melt like snow in the sun. Military hospitals then closed one after the other. The Brussels central hospital is refocusing on a few tasks: burn victims, disaster medicine. For care, soldiers get into the habit of seeking treatment in civilian hospitals. The integration (considered) for a time of the military hospital into the public hospitalization system was abandoned. The hospital is dying a beautiful death.

Not far from closing

Its closure is even clearly envisaged. This appears in Minister Steven Vandeput's strategic note. The bombing gong actually saves the hospital. The establishment of a triage capacity, with nearly a hundred injured people received, treated, conditioned and then distributed to other hospitals, shows the usefulness of a crisis platform. Only since then has this ability been lost. Lack of activity. The specific status of military doctors which allows them to practice in other hospitals has caused hospitals to lose their substance. Question of salary, but above all question of exercise. A doctor will always prefer to go where there is activity.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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