The Dutch healthcare system scores relatively high in global rankings compared to other countries in the world. However, sometimes things don’t exactly pan out the way you thought. Perhaps you don’t agree with the diagnosis of your GP, or maybe you are not satisfied with the way hospital staff treated you. What do you do when you have a complaint about a healthcare provider or healthcare insurer in the Netherlands? Do you know your rights?
Talking about your complaint
Your first step should be to talk to your care provider about your complaint. Before you set up a meeting with your care provider to talk things over, make sure you know what you want from them. Do you simply want to share your story, do you want an apology or even a refund?
If talking didn’t help, you can always file an official complaint. Every care provider must have a complaints procedure in accordance with the Healthcare Quality, Complaints and Disputes Act. For help with your complaint, you can contact your care provider’s complaint officer (or complaints mediator / confidential advisor). They can help you write a letter and / or mediate between yourself and the care provider.
Writing a letter
It is a good idea to submit your complaint in writing. Often, you can file your complaint via an online form or via email. If you need help writing such a letter, you can download a sample letter via the National Healthcare Report Centre (Landelijk Meldpunt Zorg). Always check if your complaint was received.
If you have filed an official complaint, your care provider must send you a response within the legal period of six weeks. If your care provider needs more time to deal with your complaint, they can get an extension of four weeks. They will need to inform you about this.
What can you do when you are not satisfied with your caregiver’s response to your complaint?
If you are not satisfied with the decision of your care provider concerning your complaint, there are a couple of steps you can take:
You can submit your complaint to the independent and impartial dispute committee your care provider is affiliated with. You can only do this if you have submitted your complaint in writing first. Note that their decision is binding. You will not need a lawyer to do this, but generally, a disputes committee will charge you a fee for handling your complaint.
Of course, you can also take your complaint to (civil) court. However, you will need to hire a lawyer for this. If a criminal offence took place, you should report it to the police, who can take your case to the criminal court.
Disciplinary Tribunal for Healthcare
You can also request an assessment as to whether your care provider has provided care according to their profession by submitting your complaint to the Disciplinary Tribunal for Healthcare. They can take measures against your care provider if needed. You can go to them if your care provider made an error during surgery or a wrong diagnosis, for instance.
National Healthcare Report Centre (Landelijk Meldpunt Zorg)
If you need help with figuring out who to turn to with your complaint, the National Healthcare Report Centre can advise you on what steps to take. You can also record your complaint with the National Healthcare Report Centre, who will send your complaint anonymously in a signal overview to the Inspectorate. The Inspectorate can then decide whether to open an investigation into your care provider if the complaint meets certain criteria.