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ACCESS NL > Healthcare in the Netherlands > Dutch healthcare system > Visiting the Huisarts – GP
The majority of huisartsen (GPs) in the Netherlands are Dutch but many have a good command of English. However, in areas with a large number of expatriate residents there are health care centres specialised in providing a specific service for expats.
As soon as you have your health insurance, it is important to register right away with a huisarts (GP). You can find a doctor or medical centre in your area at: www.zorgkaartnederland.nl/zorginstelling (in Dutch only). You can also contact the ACCESS Helpdesk on +31 (0)85 4000 338, 10:00-16:00, Monday to Friday, or send an email via this form.
All doctors during a patient consult have a choice to contact the ‘tolkentelefoon ‘(interpreters phone). This organisation Global Talk has many interpreters and translators able to translate over 200 languages. Besides translating documents, the translators can assists doctors/specialists during their doctor/patient consultation. Please note that you will be charged for this service. You can find more information at: https://www.globaltalk.eu/
Alternatively, you can ask a Dutch-speaking friend to accompany you to the doctor’s appointment.
Healthcare in the Netherlands is accessible 24/7.
If you call your huisarts (GP) outside normal opening hours (usually after 5 p.m., before 8 a.m. and during the weekend), a recorded telephone message will usually provide contact details for an on-duty huisarts or the number of the doktersdienst (medical advice service). Often these messages are recorded in Dutch, so it is helpful to have a Dutch speaker available to listen to the message.
If your huisarts (GP) is working in a group practice and you prefer one of the other GPs in the practice, you can schedule your appointments during his/her office hours.
If you want to change to a new GP, it is best to check if he/she is willing to accept you as a patient. Some GP don’t accept new patients because their practice is full. Acceptance also depends on the distance between the practice and your home address in order to provide house visits when necessarily. Once you are sure that you can go to the GP of your choice, ask your former GP to send your medical file to the new GP.
Depending on your personal circumstances you may need the following kinds of help:
* help with personal care or nursing care. Personal care (persoonlijke verzorging) would be assistance with getting dressed/undressed and getting washed. Also nursing care (verpleegkundige zorg) such as giving injections, treatment of wounds, etc. This kind of help is called thuiszorg or wijkzorg and is covered by the basic health insurance. If you have an in kind (natura) policy, only help from organisations that have a contract with your health insurance company is covered. It is best to contact your health insurance company to find out with which organisation in your neighbourhood they have a contract. If you have a restitution policy, you can also get help from organisations that don’t have a contract with your insurance company. If your insurance company feels their costs are too high, they will only reimburse up to a certain maximum.
The help will be given as long as necessary. The organisation you choose will come to you, discuss what you need, how often (once a day, twice a day or more often) and how long they will come. The organisation that will help you takes care of the necessary paperwork.
* help in doing the household (dishwashing, doing the laundry, ironing, dust cleaning, etc.). This is covered by the Social Support Act (Wet Maatschappelijke Ondersteuning, WMO). You must contact the municipality as you need to have approval from them first. The municipality will decide how many hours help you can get.
Keep in mind that the Dutch system (both for personal care and for doing the household) expects your partner/children help you as well as people from your network (friends, neighbours). Usually people from your network are willing to help occasionally, but not for weeks or months.The health insurance company and the municipality will try to give you as little help as possible saying you can ask your network to do the rest. Be realistic what your neighbours are willing to do for you.
If you need any tools such as crutches, a toilet chair, a wheelchair, a pillow to avoid decubitus (wounds caused by sitting/lying very long in one position) etc. it is advised to contact Vegro, www.vegro.nl. (Dutch only) or Medipoint www.medipoint.nl (Dutch only). These organisations have shops all over the Netherlands which offer a wide choice of tools you might need, and they can also help you when you call them. They can also advise what would be useful considering your situation. In most cases you can borrow what you need free of charge as long as you need it and it will be delivered to your place.
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