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Other official information and services:  belgium

The general hospitals can be subdivided into three different types[1]:

‘Classic’ general hospitals

These are hospitals that receive patients both day and night to provide specialist medical care. To meet the notion of basic hospital, a hospital must have at least 150 accredited beds with a service for surgical activities and internal medicine supplemented by at least one other discipline such as geriatrics, maternity, paediatrics, neuropsychiatry or rehabilitation. Furthermore, they must include the functions of anaesthesiology, radiology, basic clinical biology activities, rehabilitation, basic hospital pharmacy activities and palliative care. Lastly, a physician must be on-site 24 hours a day.

An exception is made in the case of atypical hospitals such as hospitals focused solely on geriatric care or hospitals focusing solely on rehabilitation. With the exception of the hospital ‘Foyer Horizon’, these hospitals are since the sixth state reform no longer under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The latter includes only palliative beds, which remain under federal jurisdiction.

General university hospitals

General university hospitals offer at least the same services as classic general hospitals, but they additionally accommodate patients requiring highly specialised treatment. A university hospital also has a mission to train healthcare providers, to engage in scientific research and to develop new technologies. They are connected to a university with a faculty of medicine.

General hospitals with a university character

These are general hospitals that have been allocated a number of university beds which are connected to a university. 



As of 01.01.2023, 30% of the 103 hospitals in Belgium are public, i.e. managed by a public authority (a municipality or an inter-municipal, provincial, regional authority, etc.), and 70% are private and run as non-profit organisations. Historically, the latter owe their existence to religious orders, mutual societies, free universities or former company hospitals. However, given the large number of hospital fusions in recent decades, many current institutions are a legacy of both the public and private sectors. The Hospitals Act makes no distinction between the public and private sectors. Consequently, the provided government funding is identical.

[1] This report zooms in on general hospitals under federal jurisdiction. It leaves out psychiatric hospitals (which provide care exclusively to people with mental disorders).