Moving from England to Belgium, what’s the health care like?

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Will moving from the UK to Belgium involve significant changes to your medical care? Many things are similar.

If you need immediate medical care, get special documents before you leave or fill in an SR2 or SR1 form if you haven’t had time to get authorisation. These can be obtained from NHS England’s European cross-border healthcare team.

Before leaving the UK for Belgium

Make your life easier if you prepare your medical records before you leave the UK for Belgium.

Your GP will have a summary of your computer records,  ask them if you can have a copy. Medical records are by law available.

If these notes cover several pages, for example, use a marker to outline important milestones or make a brief summary. Make sure you have a list of your medications and a reasonable supply. Make a copy of such records to give to your new doctor in Belgium. If you take part in government health programmes such as routine breast examinations, make sure you know when the next ones are.

If you have complex hospital notes, you can get them, they currently cost £50, unless it’s 40 days after they’ve been made, in which case they should already be free. You must bring the original documents with you. If you are going to ask for the notes by post, you will need to get the documents endorsed by the relevant person, which may be easier in the UK. You will need two types of identification:

birth certificate,

passport,

driving licence,

medical card.

You will also need proof of address – through one of the following:

bank statement,

utility bill,

tax certificate.

What to do after moving from the UK to Belgium?

You need to register with a doctor who is the equivalent of a UK GP. You may find that in Belgium the doctor runs his or her practice without the help of nurses, receptionists, health professionals or anyone else. He or she keeps their own records – which may or may not be on a computer, archives notes, makes appointments, collects money and everything else. It is possible that you will receive the notes personally, although letters also go directly to your doctor, as in the UK.

Medical insurance

Health insurance – Mutuelle or Mutualities operate as collective agencies. Once you have registered, they send you a Social Insurance Scheme (SIS) identity card, which you need for all medical contacts and prescriptions at the pharmacy. You can also pay for additional levels of cover, such as hospital admissions.

Your P111 form, which you apply for in England, covers basic care, but the Belgian system is based on insurance and this will give you a discount on prescriptions and medical care.

Visiting a hospital or clinic

Visiting a hospital or clinic can be daunting at first, especially if you don’t know what language you will need to speak. However, many facilities are bilingual, so you will be able to communicate in English.

Your first stop will be registration. Have your SIS and identity card with you, as well as a credit card or cash.