Family Doctor, Dentist, Pharmacies, Hospital

Dutch general practitioner

The general practitioner in Dutch language is huisarts ("home doctor") who administers first line, primary care. The family doctor treats patients for non-surgical problems and s/he is specialized in common and minor diseases. The doctor can answer most of the general health questions and treat patience with chronic illnesses. Different GPs have a specialization in particular field as otolaryngologists (earns, nose, throat doctor); pediatrics and etc. Most of the general practitioners have consulting hours in hospitals called Polikliniek. You can only be referred to a specialist by your general practitioner. Most of the family doctor treatments are included in your health insurance policy and the costs will be covered.

In case of (non-lethal) emergency during the weekend or after closing times of your own GP, call the Doktersdienst Groningen at 0900-9229. Trained doctors will evaluate your observations and they will take the decision if it is an urgent case or not. They will decide if you need an ambulance (and send one); send one of their own doctors to you; come in to their office; or give you an advice what to do until your doctor’s open hours. Keep in mind that calling an ambulance is not always covered by your insurance and it is not free (it can cost above 500 euro). If the emergency is live-threatening and every second counts always call 112!

How to get a GP?

The location of your family doctor is related to your municipality registration address. In that way, you will be allocated a doctor near your home. The choice of the doctor might be based on your health issues, and recommendation from the local pharmacy, neighbors and friends. However, doctors can only accept a certain number of patience by Dutch law, so it can happen that you will need to find another doctor in the area.

Student Doctor

The Student Doctor or StudentArts in Groningen is a special service adapted to the needs of internationals. At the StedentArts website you can register for a GP; make a direct appointment; online consulting; order a STD test; get a psychological assistance.

When you register for a GP, the doctor will invite you for an acquaintance consultation where your medical history and eventual health problems will be discussed. In order to get an appointment, you may have to wait for a few days to get a slot. Many doctors have open sessions (inloop spreekuur) where people wait in a queue for their turn.

For blood pressure readings, testing’s or injection you might need to meet the doctor’s assistant or a practice nurse.

If you call the GP after hour practice as for example nights, weekends and holidays, you will receive a message with the doctor on duty in your area. There is always a medical coverage during off hours.


For specialized drugs, you will need a GP prescription with which you can get the needed medication. The pharmacies in Dutch are called Apotheek and they are assigned to you by your GP. The pharmacy is always the closes one to your registered address.

You can buy at a drugstore such as Kruidvat, Etos and Trekpleister, simple (flu) treatments without prescription.


Dentist(s) in Dutch is Tandarts(en). You are free to choose whichever dentist you wish. Sometimes also the dentists are full of patients, so you will need to search another one. After you have registered with a dentist, he or she will generally contact you for a check-up every six month. Dentists perform most routine procedures themselves. Anesthesia is usually only given upon request, and dental cleaning is not part of the basic treatment. A hygienist (mondhygiënist), normally a separate entity from the dentist, may do dental cleaning or other minor dental procedures.  

For emergency care outside normal hours, call your dentist. You will hear a message (in Dutch) giving you the name and number of the dentist on duty in your area.

The basic health insurance policies do not cover dental expenses for people over 18. Special dental insurance policies are available. You should always check your insurance policy before starting non-routine treatment, such as crowns or orthodontic treatment.


Hospitals in Dutch is Ziekenhuizen.In Groningen, there are 4 hospitals available in the city. Each hospital offers a range of specialties, but many are becoming more specialized. In Groningen, be aware that the UMCG is a medical teaching hospital, so the possibility of interns or students attending your appointment exists. You will need a referral letter from your family doctor to go to the hospital in non-emergencies, which is normally mailed to your home.

Only in case of emergencies, you can visit the hospital directly or you can dial 112.

Read more about the Dutch Health Insurance system here.

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