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Medical care in the Netherlands

Everyone hopes to stay healthy throughout their vacation, trip, or travels. Unfortunately, accidents happen, and when they do, it’s good to have access to proper medical care. So no need to worry: the Netherlands has excellent doctors, hospitals, and other forms of medical assistance. We’ve compiled useful information on the most important things you need to know about accessing our top quality
healthcare system.

  • High-quality healthcare.
  • Emergency or not: the Netherlands helps everyone.
  • Medication from local pharmacy.

Emergency? Call 112

If you need urgent medical care, call the national emergency number: 112. You can always call this number in the Netherlands without needing a sim card, call credit, or even a Dutch phone network. All calls to 112 are directly forwarded to the national emergency services unit in Driebergen, where a 24/7 call center will assist you.

Yellow ambulance in front of hospital

Important: you cannot send texts or WhatsApp messages to 112. It is a telephone number for calls only.

112 is intended for emergencies such as urgent medical care. So if you have twisted your ankle, there is no need to call 112; you can make your own way to a hospital’s accident and emergency department. In most hospitals, this department has its own dedicated entrance where you can simply go to the front desk and the staff will assist you.

Not free of charge

Do keep in mind that medical services (both regular and emergency) are not provided free of charge in the Netherlands. We recommend checking your own health insurance and/or travel insurance before you head to our country. It is also always a good idea to bring your insurance card or copies of your policy with you.

Another useful bit of information is that the Dutch healthcare system works on the basis of referrals. It is customary to visit a family doctor (Dutch: huisarts) or out-of-hours family doctor service (Dutch: huisartsenpost) before making an appointment with a specialist.

Family doctors in the Netherlands

Doctor and patient with medical masks

If you are experiencing minor discomfort or want to have something checked, a good idea would be to go see the family doctor of a Dutch friend, for example. That doctor can then help you and refer you to the accident and emergency department or a specialist if required. If you are staying at a hotel or B&B, the reception desk can help you make an appointment.

Dutch healthcare is known for its high quality and is comparable to the healthcare systems of other Western European countries. The Netherlands has diagnostic laboratories and specialists in all fields, and hospitals are well-equipped with a large variety of clinics, including maternity clinics.

Nowadays, there are also health centers, which are clinics that combine various forms of primary healthcare and assistance. A typical health center may include several family doctors, a pharmacy, and a physiotherapy clinic, for example.


Colored medicine in hands

Most medication is available on the spot, although they may be different brands than in other countries and tend to be more expensive. Tourists are advised to bring as much medication (and the related prescription/documentation) as they expect to need during their stay in the Netherlands.

If a doctor prescribes medication for you, you can pick it up and pay for it at the local pharmacy.

Many cities have large hospitals and if there is limited or no availability at one, there is (almost) always another hospital that can help you.


Example of dentures

Finally, should you require the services of a dentist while in the Netherlands, all you have to do is find one near you and call them. If you call outside of working hours or on the weekend, you can get help from an emergency dentist. The telephone number of the local emergency dentist can almost always be found on the website of any regular dentist.

Larger cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, Almere, and Den Bosch have a special outpatient dental clinics called mondzorgpoli. These clinics are open day and night to help people who urgently need a dentist for issues such as a severe toothache, a broken tooth, or other injury that requires immediate help.

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