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Professionals in health care
Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, is studying, within an experimental framework, the possibilities of using various administrative databases in order to obtain different information, in particular relating to the employment situation. This research is part of the preparation of the next Census in 2021. In the current context of the Covid-19 crisis, an initial experiment focused on the social and professional characteristics of medical providers.
Characteristics of professionals in health care
Statbel examined the situation of the 416,038 health care providers who were working and living in Belgium at the beginning of 2020  .An analysis was also carried out more specifically on the 3 health care professions in which most people working in this sector are concentrated: doctors, nurses and assistant nurses. In Belgium, there are in 2020 47,808 doctors, 152,067 nurses and 109,534 assistant nurses who are living in Belgium, are active and have the right to provide their services on the Belgian territory. They may hold different jobs, particularly in other sectors. 8.35% of the persons employed as health care personnel, i.e. 34,722 persons, combine different health care disciplines.
- Of the health care personnel, 78.35% are employees (only or in combination) and 30.25% are self-employed (only or in combination), of whom almost 9% combine both.
- More doctors are self-employed. There are indeed 34,769 independent doctors in 2020. On the other hand, there are only 28,250 self-employed nurses and 8,746 self-employed assistant nurses.
|Status in employment||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
|Combined status (employees and self-employed)||37,189||8.94%||6.34%||8.11%||4.54%|
|Combined status (employees and helpers)||612||0.15%||0.02%||0.18%||0.18%|
- Most (78.6%) of people working as health care personnel are women.
- 51.65% of doctors are men, while 14.6% of nurses and 9.18% of assistant nurses are men.
|Sex||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
- 95.04% of health care providers in Belgium have the Belgian nationality and almost 16,000 are European Union nationals (excluding Belgium). 4,670 non-EU nationals work in health care. They mostly work as assistant nurses (2,984).
|Nationality||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
|European EU-27 (excluding UK, excluding BE)||15,956||3.84%||5.99%||3.70%||3.67%|
- 11,887 active medical providers are 65 years of age or older. They're mostly doctors. There are in Belgium 6,417 doctors aged 65 and over who are still working.
|Age groups||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
|65 years and over||11,887||2.86%||13.42%||0.86%||0.21%|
- Most of health care professionals work (58.69%) and live (62.14%) in the Flemish Region.
- There are proportionally more doctors (21,10%) working in Brussels than nurses (10,63%) and assistant nurses (8,89%).
|Region of work||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
- A higher proportion of doctors live in the Brussels-Capital Region or in the provinces of Walloon Brabant and Flemish Brabant compared to nurses and assistant nurses.
|Province of residence||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
|Province of Antwerp||63,791||15.33%||13.83%||15.32%||16.84%|
|Province of Limburg||34,259||8.23%||5.65%||9.52%||8.92%|
|Province of East Flanders||61,698||14.83%||12.46%||15.59%||15.77%|
|Province of Flemish Brabant||46,505||11.18%||14.18%||10.73%||9.17%|
|Province of West Flanders||52,276||12.57%||8.41%||14.59%||14.08%|
|Province of Walloon Brabant||15,353||3.69%||6.01%||2.90%||1.90%|
|Province of Hainaut||46,095||11.08%||8.86%||11.13%||12.52%|
|Province of Liège||41,341||9.94%||10.81%||9.30%||9.78%|
|Province of Luxembourg||7,807||1.88%||1.70%||1.65%||1.76%|
|Province of Namur||19,504||4.69%||4.76%||4.52%||4.21%|
- 76% of health care personnel lives as a couple (married or not) and 54% as a couple with children. A higher proportion of doctors are married than nurses and assistant nurses.
- 49,124 health care providers live alone and 43,212 live alone with children. There is a higher proportion of doctors living alone and a lower proportion of doctors living in single-parent households. In contrast, almost 14% of assistant nurses live in single-parent households.
|Household type||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
|Married couples without children||50,788||12.21%||16.78%||12.84%||9.54%|
|Married couples with children||164,981||39.66%||42.83%||40.38%||34.37%|
|Unmarried cohabitants without children||40,095||9.64%||8.93%||8.30%||10.62%|
|Unmarried cohabitants with children||59,771||14.37%||9.53%||13.99%||17.79%|
|Other types of household (not collective)||7,89||1.90%||2.11%||1.78%||2.20%|
- More than a quarter (25.13%) of health care personnel lives with exactly 2 children younger than 25 and almost 58% of health care personnel lives with at least 1 child younger than 25.
|Number of children (<25 years) within the household||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
|6 and more||433||0.10%||0.10%||0.08%||0.20%|
- 21% have at least one child aged 18-25, 18% have at least one child aged 12-18, 19% have at least one child aged 6-12 and 20% have at least one child under 6 living in the same household.
- 49.03% of doctors do not have children younger than 25 in their household. Contrary to the average of all medical providers, doctors more often have 3 and 4 children.
- More than 6% of health care personnel lives with at least one other person over the age of 65, of whom almost 2% live with 2 other people over the age of 65. 15.71% of doctors live with at least one other person aged over 65 in the household while only 4.70% of nurses and 4.54% of assistant nurses live with at least one other person aged over 65 in the same household.
|Number of other older people (>65 years) within the household||Total health care||% total health care||% doctors||% nurses||% assistant nurses|
|4 and more||125||0.03%||0.04%||0.04%||0.03%|
- Population 2020 : 01/01/2020 based on the National Register
- CBE number: 31/12/2019
- Data NISSE (self-employed) 31/12/2019
- Data NSSO + data NSSOPLA (employees) 31/03/2020
- Data FPS Health (database of health care personnel who has the right to provide services in Belgium): 01/04/2020
Method: the data of the NSSO and the NSSOPLA for employees (situation on 31/03/2020) and of the NISSE for the self-employed and helpers (situation on 31/12/2019) were first taken into account in order to define the persons active on the labour market. These two databases were provided by the Crossroads Bank for Social Security. These data were then coupled with the database of the FPS Health. The data include all persons who have received authorisation to exercise a profession in health care. On 1/04/2020 they are in possession of a visa giving them the right to provide services or a badge for first aid-ambulance workers.
The demographic data come from Statbel’s demographic database (Demobel), which is based on data from the National Register. The Belgian population on 1 January 2020 was used as a reference. The Belgian population includes Belgians and non-Belgians who have been allowed or authorised to settle or to stay in Belgium. It does not include people not having the Belgian nationality and living on the territory for less than three months, asylum seekers and people in an illegal situation.
Data from the Crossroads Bank of Enterprises (CBE) were used to define the workplace, according to the enterprise number mentioned in the data of the NSSO database and according to the enterprise number of agents for the self-employed. If no workplace could be defined, a proxy at the regional level was defined based on the worker's place of residence.
These data and these couplings made it possible to identify 416,038 health professionals and their characteristics.
The analysis was carried out as an experiment in preparation for the next Census. The figures given are neither official nor definitive and do not currently allow any comparison with other studies published elsewhere, in particular by the FPS Public Health.
The Census is a ten-year snapshot of the Belgian population on 1 January, i.e. all inhabitants of the Belgian territory, whatever their nationality. The Census provides a wide range of figures on demography, socio-economic aspects, education and housing.
 The occupations included in the persons employed as health care personnel are: doctor, pharmaceutical-technical assistant, dietician, occupational therapist, audiologist, medical laboratory technologist, speech therapist, orthoptist-optometrist, chiropodist, medical imaging technologist, dental hygienist, midwife, assistant nurse, pharmacist, first aid-ambulance worker, dentist, clinical psychologist, clinical orthopedagogue, physiotherapist, nurse.