Personal & Social Needs

General Practitioner (GP)

General Practitioner

In the Netherlands, the huisarts (General Practitioner, GP) plays a very important role in health care. Whatever doctor you might need, a visit to your GP is your first stop on your way to receive medical treatment. A GP in the Netherlands is the collector of all your medical information, and therefore the only one in the medical system who has contact with all the medical institutions you might visit. Without a referral note from your GP, it is very hard to make an appointment with a specialist and without the referral note, your health insurance company might not reimburse you.

Another difference is the medical culture. In the Netherlands, antibiotics and other medications are prescribed with greater reserve than you may be accustomed to. This has resulted in a very low incidence of antibiotic resistant infections.

Choosing a doctor
All local doctors have the same education and are approved by the Dutch authorities. You can make an appointment to meet a GP and discuss your personal requirements before deciding whether to register with him/her. It is always useful to take along your medical records from your home country.


Some questions you may consider asking are:

  • Do both the receptionist and the doctor speak a language you understand?
  • What is the policy on house visits?
  • What detection screening tests are done, and how regularly?
  • Do patients always need an appointment or are there spreekuur (open consultation hours)?
  • Is there a specific time when patients can phone?
  • What should you do if you need a doctor at weekends or during the night?


It is advisable to choose a GP close to your home. This makes it easier for you to visit the practice and for the doctor to visit you. You need to register with the doctor once you know where you will be living.


How to find a doctor
In the big cities, not all GP practices are taking on new patients. You can find a list of doctors for your area in your gemeentegids (community guide), which is available from the Town Hall. Doctors are also listed in the Yellow Pages. Bear in mind that registering is not always as easy as it seems, since many doctors have waiting lists. In general, it is easier to join a large practice such as the SGE Eindhoven or the Gezondheidscentrum Maastricht Oost. If you already know people in your neighborhood, you might ask them if they know a good GP.


Help outside of practicing hours

There is a 24/7 medical coverage throughout the region. In practice, this means that outside regular hours you need to call the  Centrale Huisartsen Post, CHP, to consult a doctor. This coverage system also applies to pharmacists.

In case of an emergency, always call 112!


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