Doctors in the Netherlands play an important role in the healthcare system. The doctor (huisarts) is the first port of call if you have health problems. Doctors have their practices in residential areas and operate on an appointment system. If necessary, the doctor will refer patients to a specialist at a hospital.
Finding a family doctor
In the Netherlands, patients are free to choose their own family doctor. Many practices have male and female doctors and allow you to specify any preferences when you make an appointment. In case of an emergency, it is recommended that you register with a GP close to your home.
Find family doctors in your area using the website zorgkaartnederland.nl The website is available in Dutch. To search, fill in your postcode in the second text box and click zoek.
Although doctors in the Netherlands practice mainstream western medicine, there is a growing number of GPs who combine it with alternative treatment methods such as homoeopathy, acupuncture or anthroposophical therapy.
Visiting a doctor
On arriving in Amsterdam, you are welcome to interview a family doctor before signing up with their practice. Take any medical records with you, as this enables the doctor to assess medical history and the patient to gauge the communication. This initial meeting will normally be charged as a consultation. Most GPs in the Amsterdam Area speak English very well, and there are several doctors throughout the city that specialise in treating expats.
Health Insurance coverage and the doctor
Health insurance covers the cost of a consultation. Under a contracted care policy (naturapolis), the doctor sends his bill directly to the insurer. Under a non-contracted care policy (restitutiepolis), the doctor bills the patient and the patient declares the costs with the insurer. Please note that it is advisable, under contracted care policies, to check with an insurer which doctors are on its list. This expedites the doctor’s payment and spares the patient administration.
When to contact the family doctor
The family doctor should be the first point of call for all medical problems with the exception of real emergencies. If suffering from flu, a twisted ankle, abdominal pain, psychological problems, chronic illness or even gynaecological problems, contact the GP first.
You can make an appointment over the phone, and in some cases by email. Most doctors have set surgery hours and some even give advice over the phone. If the problem is serious, the doctor may make a house call, but this is not normal practice.
Once a diagnosis is made, the family doctor decides on the method of treatment. He or she can treat the problem themselves, perhaps with prescription drugs available from a chemist. Alternatively, the GP may refer the patient to a specialist in a hospital. A referral is always necessary to see a specialist except for physiotherapists or midwives.
Treatment outside surgery hours
If you urgently need a family doctor in the evening, at night or during the weekend, telephone the Doctors Service Foundation of Amsterdam (SHDA, Stichting Huisartsen Dienstenposten Amsterdam) at 088 003 0600. Click here for more information on what to do in a medical emergency.
If you require medication, several after-hours pharmacies operate in the region, including Amsterdam Central Pharmacy located inside Amsterdam Central Station. Pharmacists are available seven days a week until late in the evening, and over-the-counter medicines can be purchased 24 hours a day.
IN Amsterdam partners
Check our full list of IN Amsterdam partners, including healthcare providers.