Hospital departments
A hospital department* offers patients a specific type of (specialised) care. For identification purposes, the various departments are all assigned an identification letter.
For instance, the letter 'M' invariably stands for the maternity department while ‘D’ will always denote diagnosis and medical treatment. ‘Sp’ refers to the department that specialises in treatment and revalidation.

The recognition of hospital departments
Every department within a hospital must be recognised and satisfy a number of specific standards, for instance on:
- Minimum bed capacity and occupancy rate
- Technical equipment
- Medical, paramedical and nursing staff
- Levels of activity

Care programmes
Care programmes* were introduced in the Belgian healthcare system to ensure that patients receive the appropriate care at the right time. That care is offered in a coordinated fashion: be it via an admission to hospital, a polyclinic or an outpatients' department. Care programmes are multidisciplinary and transversal in nature. This means that the cooperation between the various healthcare providers*, disciplines and healthcare institutions transcends the confines of the hospital walls.

The current care programmes are specialised care programmes. They focus on patients suffering from a specific pathology (e.g. cardiac problems) or on an organisational or functional aspect of a facility (e.g. casualty care).

The recognition of care programmes
If a healthcare facility wishes to offer a specific care programme, a number of characteristics or parameters will need to be satisfied. These may relate to:
- The target group
- The nature and content of the care
- Minimum levels of activity
- The required infrastructure
- The required medical and non-medical staffing levels and expertise
- Quality standards and quality assurance standards
- Prudential criteria (to ensure the financial soundness and viability of care programmes, e.g. by looking for proof of a particular activity)
- Geographical accessibility criteria (e.g. in the case of the care programme for children, all the various components of the programme must be available in the same facility, i.e. hospital care, outpatient consultations…).

Overview of the care programmes
Hereafter, we offer you a concise overview of the care programmes currently in place. Individual care programmes may also number various care and care sub-programmes, depending on the diagnosis and the concrete treatment options. Every care programme and care sub-programme is governed by statutory standards the facility must adhere to.

- Reproductive medicine
The reproductive medicine care programme caters for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.

- Cardiac pathology
The cardiac pathology care programme has been designed for patients suffering from cardiac arrhythmia or heart failure.

- Oncology
The oncology care programme is aimed at cancer patients. Patients are approached holistically, and with the necessary focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care. In oncology, the following care programmes have been put in place: ‘basic oncology care’, ‘oncology’ and 'breast cancer’. The care programme in question puts a firm emphasis on patient-specific consultation between healthcare providers.

- Care programme for children
The care programme for children focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of conditions in children. The various components of this care programme must be available at one and the same location. The interest of the child takes centre stage here. Any facility offering this care programme must meet certain requirements such as organising recreational and leisure activities for children staying at the hospital.

- Care programme for geriatric patients
This particular care programme deals with the diagnosis, therapeutic process and the revalidation and follow-up of geriatric patients. Via a pluridisciplinary approach, one aims to ensure that patients recover as best as they might. Maximum independence and quality of life of the elderly patient is one aspect of this programme.

The care programme for geriatric patients exclusively caters for patients of an advanced age (average age > 75 years) and with a geriatric profile*, who have been admitted to a general hospital where multidisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses and paramedics ensure that geriatric patients receive care that is tailored to their individual needs.

Geriatric patients in Belgium have access to a wide range of care services which are, insofar as possible, tailored to the needs of the individual patient. As a minimum, the care programme must provide for geriatric consultations, multi-day admissions to a geriatric department and for an external geriatrics liaison officer. To ensure continuity of care, the hospital's geriatric department cooperates with external healthcare providers (e.g. general practitioners).
For recognition and funding purposes, the individual care programmes for geriatric patients are subject to stringent recognition standards.

Monitoring, quality and evaluation
Checking hospital services and care programmes is part of the hospital inspection and audit process.

French Community Commission (COCOF)
Specialised hospitals authorized by the French Community Commission
The French Community Commission authorizes one specialised service: the Centre for Traumatology and Re-adaptation (CTR). Its authorization is valid for 117 beds SP (re-adaptation) of which 29 beds S2 (specialisation locomotoric disorders) and 88 beds S3 (specialisation neurologic disorders) of which 6 beds COMA (Assessment centre for comatic patients).

The Centre for Traumatology and Re-adaptation (CTR) is authorized by the French Community Commission. Its authorization is given on the basis of general and specific standards in the co-ordinated law concerning hospitals and other health care institutions of 10 July 2008 and in the decree of het Executive of the French Community of 5 November 1987.

Quality of care and patient's safety
The hospital unit must respect the law of 22 August 2002 concerning patients' rights (Dutch version or French version).

Control and assessment
The standards are controlled by the administration of the French Community Commission.

Walloon Region:
The healthcare programmes in place in the hospitals of Wallonia (except for the German-speaking Community) and in the four French-speaking university hospitals (St Luc Woluwé, Erasme, Liège and Mont-Godinne) are subject to the same approval requirements as all other hospital areas.
For the Walloon Region and the university hospitals dependent on the French Community, see the portal "Action Sociale et Santé en Wallonie".

Common Community Commission (Brussels):
The standards are checked by the inspection service and the health service of the Common Community Commission annually. In addition, there are inspections carried out when there is a change in the number of beds, a new manager, a change in the asbl such as the name of the asbl, address or the location, a change in the objectives of the institution or the recognition standards.

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* see Glossary