“A system that works”

The 2016 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Adults compared the healthcare systems of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The Dutch Minister of Health, Edith Schippers, was presented with the results at an event in Washington, where the researchers introduced the Dutch healthcare system as “an example for a system that works.”

Excellent access to primary care

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that supports independent research and provides subsidies to improve healthcare in the United States. The Dutch healthcare system topped the survey’s rankings regarding quick access to care and access to care outside of office hours. According to the survey, the Dutch healthcare system “fares especially well on access to primary care and care coordination.” Compared to the other 10 countries, Dutch patients most often have their own GP and patient dossiers are best organised. Waiting times for lower-income patients are the shortest of all surveyed countries.

Few financial restrictions, short waiting times

According to the survey, “the Netherlands has among the lowest rates of emergency department use, of not being able to get same- or next-day appointments, of difficulty getting after-hours care, and of their records not being available at an appointment or duplicate tests being ordered.” Other factors where the Dutch system scored high include few financial limits to access to care and short waiting times for specialists. An interesting aspect is that Dutch patients were least likely to say they had received unnecessary treatment or tests.

Improving high standards

Minister Schippers said: “These results confirm the pride I feel when I visit [Dutch] hospitals and health centres and speak to doctors, nurses and patients there – it’s all down to them.” She added “There is still much to improve. So let’s not waste out time with debates about the system. Other countries – and I don’t mean developing countries – are jealous of how we have organised our healthcare.”