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Healthcare in the Netherlands

Wednesday morning, 7:00, time to wake up. It was a tough night; our eightyear old daughter complained that she could not sleep due to pain in her tummy. After we gave her a paracetamol she fell asleep but was very restless. She kept on turning in her sleep and woke up a few more times.

7:05. Our daughter is still complaining about pain in her tummy, on the right side. The pain has become worse and so bad that she does not want to go to school. What can this be? My husband and I look at each other; can this be her appendix? We take a quick look at a healthcare website and yes, the appendix is on the right side of the body.

Call the family doctor

In the Netherlands, you need to consult the family doctor before you go to the hospital. The only exception is an emergency. Our daughter can still talk. She doesn’t feel well, but her situation is not what we would call an emergency.

It’s 7:15. Our GP has not started her day yet. We have to call the ‘Huisartsenpost’ (urgent care) to speak to a doctor. The doctor urges us to come to the practice, which in our case is located in the hospital. Should she suffer from appendicitis, she will be in good hands quickly!

At the doctor

After an examination the doctor says that our daughter does not have appendicitis. Her tummy is upset but will recover soon. Happy ever after… glad that our sweetheart does not need surgery, we drive back home together with her.

Healthcare in the Netherlands

The above story illustrates how the Dutch healthcare system works. You always have to consult a GP first, the hospital is only for emergency cases. If there is not a very urgent reason to go the hospital right away, the family doctor is the place to start. Family doctors in the Netherlands have successfully concluded six years of studying medicine plus an additional three years specialized study to become a family doctor. They have good knowledge of many health subjects and know where to go if it’s beyond their capabilities. You are in good hands!