When you first arrive in the Netherlands it is important to register with a nearby GP/family doctor (Huisarts) as soon as possible. In case of an emergency or home visit, a doctor needs to be able to get to your home within fifteen minutes.

Need to knows

  • It is customary to see your new GP for an initial interview before registering with their practice.
  • In the Netherlands, you require an appointment to see a doctor. If possible provide your new GP with your medical records to inform him/her of your health situation.
  • If you require medicine, your GP will write a prescription which you can take to the nearest pharmacy (apotheek) to collect your medicine.

When to contact a doctor

The General Practitioner/family doctor (huisarts) should be the first person you call for all medical problems, with the exception of emergencies (call 112).

If you are suffering from flu, a twisted ankle, abdominal pain, psychological problems, chronic illness or gynaecological problems, contact your huisarts first.

Huisarts appointments can be made by phone. Most doctors have set visiting hours and often give advice over the phone (or even over a secure website). If your problem is of a serious nature, the doctor may make a house call, though this is not standard procedure.

Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will decide on the method of treatment. The doctor may decide to treat the problem themselves (perhaps with prescription medicine available from a pharmacy) or refer you to a specialist at a hospital. You will always need a referral in order to see a specialist, except for appointments with a physiotherapist or midwife. Outside office hours a special emergency unit (huisartsenpost) can be reached.

GPinfo.nl has a selection of useful health information which is developed and maintained by the Dutch College of GPs. You can search your symptoms and find guidance on when to visit your GP. It also explains some of the cultural differences you might encounter in the Dutch healthcare system.