What you need to know

  • It is customary to see your new GP for an initial interview before registering with their practice.  

  • In the Netherlands, you must have 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.  

Image of a doctors daily report schedule and medical related tools

When to contact a doctor

The General Practitioner/family doctor (huisarts) should be the first person you call for all medical problems. Call 112 in case of an emergency. 

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

Doctor with laptop

Huisarts appointments can be made by phone. Most doctors have set visiting hours and often give advice over the phone (or over a secure website). If your problem is of a serious nature, the doctor may make a house call, though this is not a 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 (with prescription medicine available from a pharmacy) or refer you to a specialist at a hospital. You will need a referral in order to see a specialist, except for appointments with a physiotherapist or midwife.

Emergency units - These are set up for emergencies only and cost more than a GP during consulting hours. You can go here outside normal office hours. The costs of a non-emergency visit to the emergency unit are not covered by your health insurance.

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.  

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