“My car can no longer drive in Brussels”: Catherine no longer knows how to get to the hospital for her follow-up after cancer due to Low Emission Zone

As a 67-year-old, Catherine pressed the orange Alert us button to testify to the complicated situation she is currently in. This resident of Écaussinnes in Hainaut is in remission after battling breast cancer for 2 years. Today, she regularly visits the hospital in Ixelles to monitor her cancer. But since January 1, 2022, his car is no longer allowed to drive in Brussels. And she can not find other simple solutions without having to pay money to get there. A situation that gives him further concern.

“Since I have had breast cancer since October 2020, I have fortunately been treated successfully at the hospital in Ixelles. My car can no longer drive in Brussels since 1 January 2022 and I have just received a first warning. My follow-up on my cancer takes place at the hospital in Ixelles and therefore requires that I can easily go there several times a year. What should I do ?”wrote Catherine, 67, via the orange Alert us button.

This resident of Écaussinnes in Hainaut is today in a situation that is, to say the least, complicated. Following the establishment of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in Brussels, she can no longer circulate in the capital with her Diesel from 2008. Problem? She has to go to the hospital in Ixelles regularly to be checked for cancer. It was at this hospital that she worked for years as a nurse. It is also there that she has all her specialists and that she was operated on after the discovery of her breast cancer. She knows the medical teams, so it’s normal for her to continue her treatments there. But to get there, it was crossed and bannered. “From 1uh “I will have to pay a fine of 350 euros if I am photographed again when I drive around Brussels with my car”sorry Catherine.

According to her, there are currently no other solutions: “I watched by public transport, from my home, it would take me a whole day. In addition, the chemotherapy has exacerbated my problems with osteoarthritis, so I have a very hard time walking. I have to move around with a cane. And I can at all do not imagine the fatigue it would give me … “the pensioner continues.

A letter to the Brussels region

Catherine is determined to continue being treated in Ixelles and tells us that she wrote a letter to the Brussels region. “Their response was completely impersonal. It did not address my problem … I feel that my situation was not taken into account. I was told to change my car, but I could not afford a new car. I also have “I was told to exchange a car with a relative, but that is not possible. My partner has a company car, he can not lend it to me when he goes to work”develops our conversation partner.

In her reply, Catherine tells us, the Brussels region also mentioned another possibility: “Look with an ASBL so they transport me, but it takes me all day when I go there. And then how much will it cost me?”she says.

I do not want to change doctors, I want to keep my oncologist, my surgeon, my psychologist …

There is actually one last alternative, but perhaps a little more expensive: Buy a day pass to circulate in the capital. This costs 35 euros per. day, but it is currently limited to 8 times a year, per. person and per. vehicle. “I am retired and with rising cost of living we have a tight budget”she regrets before continuing: “I find these policy decisions outrageous and discriminatory, applied arbitrarily, although I understand that measures must be taken to protect our planet. While heavy trucks can still drive into Brussels …”

Ideally, Catherine would like to be able to have one “permanent exception” to continue to go to Ixelles hospital. “I have always been there and I have been really well followed for my cancer. I do not want to change doctors, I want to keep my oncologist, my surgeon, my psychologist … I find it essential to be able to continue to get myself to to follow and treat by the doctors I choose. A cancer is still important … In addition, the law guarantees the patient’s free choice of doctor. “she emphasizes and invokes a law in Belgian law concerning the rights of the patient.

A law from 2002

This law, which entered into force on October 6, 2002, guarantees “better protection of the patient by (re) placing him at the center of healthcare”, we can read on Wallex, the website of the Walloon Public Service, which publishes legal information related to the organization, activity and competencies of the Walloon Region. Specifically, the patient has the right to quality services, free choice of health nurse and to be informed about his or her state of health. He also has the right to freely give his consent to any intervention of the professional general practitioner, subject to prior information, to consult his medical record, which must be kept up to date and kept in a safe place or even the right to respect for his privacy and intimacy .

With this Low Emission Zone and the ban on her vehicle circulating in the capital without having to pay any amount, Catherine thus has the impression that her right to freely choose her health nurse is not respected. . “It’s illegal to prevent someone from going to the doctor. Even with the birth, my cancer has not been diagnosed directly … It’s a situation that weighs on me, and morale is part of the chances of being cured of the cancer.smut residents in Écaussinnes.

LEZ is here to protect people’s health, improve air quality and fight disease

On the environmental side of Brussels, we recall the importance of this low-emission zone and the reasons for its implementation in 2018. “LEZ is there to protect people’s health, improve air quality and fight disease. And that’s what we do by phasing out diesel vehicles. Euro 4 diesel engines are the latest generation of cars that do not have a particulate filter, and we know that. that these fine particles are carcinogenic “insists Sarah Rolander, Head of the Sustainable Mobility Department at Brussels Environment.

The solutions proposed by the Brussels Environment are in fact identical to those mentioned by Catherine. “This is what we recommend to those affected”, confirms Sarah Rolander. But she tells us about a mobility coaching service: “Someone can give individual advice to people in relation to their mobility. She can see if there is a possibility to use car sharing, but I know the offer is less important in Wallonia. The coach can also inform about the services available. for the transport of sick people “she develops and specifies that this system in the base is oriented more towards people who do not have a car. “There are also various social transport services”adds our conversation partner.

As for the one-day card for 35 euros, then this is it “quite expensive, but offers some flexibilitycontinues Sarah Rolander It can be bought the same day and even again the day after, after the trip to Brussels “. The Brussels region also plans to increase the number of days a year from 8 to 24, however “it has not yet been finally approved by the government”she says.

Get the PMR card

Our resident in Écaussinnes therefore believes that she is in a dead end as no solution at present can satisfy her. The sexager therefore says that she has taken steps to get a card for people with reduced mobility. “That way I will be able to get exemption from entering Brussels without having to pay the tax.”

If Catherine thinks this is the solution to her problem, there is really nothing less certain … “If the person meets the conditions for having the card disabled, he or she must also have BIM status”, notes the Head of the Sustainable Mobility Department in the Brussels Environment. BIM status (for recipient of increased intervention) is a status that is automatically granted via mutual to several categories of people: those who have received social inclusion income or equivalent assistance over a period of 3 uninterrupted months; those who benefit from the Guaranteed Income for the Elderly (GRAPA); or those with a disability receiving a benefit. This status also applies to persons receiving a benefit for a dependent child with a disability of at least 66%; unaccompanied foreign minors (MENA); and finally to orphans who have lost both parents and are under 25 years of age.

Catherine tells us that she does not meet any of these criteria. And the other exceptions that make it possible to obtain this precious exception do not concern it either, namely: “If the car is designed to transport a person in a wheelchair, or if the disabled person has made changes to his car in order to be able to drive”details our contact person from Brussels Environnement.

Catherine’s situation therefore does not appear to be resolved. But the 67-year-old pensioner confirms that she has no plans to give up for the time being. And she intends to continue to inquire to hope for her dispensation.


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