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GPs and the Dutch healthcare system

The Netherlands is a country with a population of around 17 million. Health insurance is mandatory, which covers a standard benefit package including primary care delivered by GPs. There are no co-payments for GP visits.

All Dutch residents are registered with a local general practice of their own choice. One full-time GP provides ongoing medical care to an average of 2,350 patients, both male and female patients in all age groups. The GP is gatekeeper to hospital- and specialist care. They offer out-of-hour services by GP cooperatives across the whole country.

Most GPs work in small practices (2-5 practitioners) located close to the community. Most practices are owned by the GPs themselves. Over the last decade, collaboration among practices has increased, moving towards larger teams and organizational networks. They have included other disciplines, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and community nurses.

Background information

If you would like to know more about GPs and the Dutch healthcare system, we recommend the following articles:

  • Faber MJ, Burgers JS, Westert GP. A sustainable primary care system: lessons from the Netherlands. J Ambul Care Manage. 2012; 35(3): 174-81.
  • Giesen P, Smits M, Huibers L, Grol R, Wensing M. Quality of after-hours primary care in the Netherlands: a narrative review. Ann Intern Med. 2011; 155(2): 108-13.
  • Westert GP, Burgers JS, Verkleij H. The Netherlands: regulated competition behind the dykes? BMJ. 2009; 339: 839-42.