What people from abroad often notice about Dutch healthcare

In brief

In brief

  • The GP is your first contact in The Netherlands.
  • In the Netherlands, doctors are less likely to prescribe antibiotics and other medication.
  • A yearly health check is not recommended.
  • In general, GPs do not provide perinatal care.
  • You might have to get used to the Dutch directness.
  • Tell your GP if you are uncomfortable with nudity.
  • You can always bring someone with you to a doctor's visit.

ORS

ORS is een oplossing van zouten en druivensuiker in water.

Het wordt gebruikt bij waterdunne diarree en braken (overgeven).

Kijk voor meer informatie op Apotheek.nl.
Different role GP

Different role of GP

The general practitioner (GP), called a huisarts in Dutch, is unknown in many health systems. In addition, the role of GPs in other health systems may be different from the very central role of the GP in Dutch healthcare.

GP is your first contact

The GP is your first contact in The Netherlands, even if you would prefer to see a doctor in the hospital. The GP will assess your symptoms and give you a referral to another specialist if they deem it necessary.

This system works well in the Netherlands and our GPs have experience with a wide range of symptoms and treatments.

It’s always a good idea to invest in a strong relationship with your GP and explain any personal or cultural concerns you have so they can support you.

Ask for what you need

In general: you should not be afraid to ask for the information or service that you need or feel comfortable with.

Read more about the role of the GP in the Netherlands.

Prescribing medication

Less likely to prescribe medication

In the Netherlands, doctors are less likely to prescribe antibiotics and other medication compared to what you may be used to. After a consultation, it is possible that you will receive a diagnosis but no medication. You are advised to come back if the symptoms do not get better. You may also be advised to take pain killers like paracetamol to reduce any pain or discomfort.

Why are doctors less likely to prescribe medication?

ORS

ORS is een oplossing van zouten en druivensuiker in water.

Het wordt gebruikt bij waterdunne diarree en braken (overgeven).

Kijk voor meer informatie op Apotheek.nl.

paracetamol

Paracetamol werkt pijnstillend en koortsverlagend.

Het is te gebruiken bij verschillende soorten pijn zoals, hoofdpijn, migraine, koorts, griep, verkoudheid, keelpijn, bijholteontsteking, middenoorontsteking, oorpijn door gehoorgangontsteking, artrose, spierpijn, gewrichtspijn en menstruatieklachten.

Kijk voor meer informatie op Apotheek.nl.
Pregnancy and childbirth

Pregnancy and childbirth

In the Netherlands, pregnancy and childbirth are considered natural events. Giving birth at home is common and pain medication is not generally given. You can always opt for pain relief and to give birth in a hospital if you prefer. Midwives are medical professionals who have received 4 years of training.

In general, GPs do not provide perinatal care (care during pregnancy and childbirth), nor maternity care afterwards.

Read more about which care the GP does and does not provide.

Directness

Directness is a Dutch cultural trait

Dutch GPs may seem blunt and direct: directness is a Dutch cultural trait that may take some time getting used to. We recommend that you prepare for each doctor’s visit by writing down your questions and concerns.

Liberal about nudity

Liberal when it comes to nudity

The Dutch are liberal when it comes to nudity. You might not be offered a privacy screen to get undressed behind or a sheet to cover yourself with during an examination.

If you are uncomfortable with this, for example because of your culture or religion, you can tell your doctor about your concerns and needs.

Women (and men) can always bring someone with them to a doctor’s visit.

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