The first point of contact in getting healthcare in the Netherlands is to register with a doctor (huisarts in Dutch) or general practitioner (GP).
It is important to register with a huisarts when you arrive in the Netherlands. If you have not registered with a GP and you then become ill, you may have difficulty finding a nearby doctor who is taking patients, as their practice may already be full.
How to find a doctor
To search for a local doctor, go to the ZorgkaartNederland website (in Dutch) and enter your postcode. Or you can visit your Gemeentehuis (town / city hall) and ask for a gemeentegids (a booklet issued by your municipality containing information about as doctors, sports groups, day care, etc.), which will have a list of all the local GPs. There is also a listing in the Yellow Pages (Gouden Gids) under Artsen - Huisartsen.
If you are looking for an expat-friendly GP (Huisarts) in Amsterdam visit General Practitioner HAPK and make an appointment.
Your GP may wish to have a consultation appointment with you to go over your medical history. This is a good opportunity to have any questions about healthcare in the Netherlands answered.
Making appointments with a GP
You can call your GP directly to make an appointment, or many practices have a spreekuur (consultation hour), usually early in the morning, where you can speak to your doctor without an appointment. You may also be able to consult the doctor (or assistant) over the phone in the case of simple questions. Some GPs also make house calls, usually after hours or during a specifically allotted time.
If your doctor is away, they will leave an answering message with the number of another doctor and possibly the number of the emergency dokterdienst. The actual doctor varies area to area, so the service will give you the name and number of a doctor on duty near you, or have the doctor call you.
The other option is to call your local huisartsenpost. For more see emergency numbers.
Making appointments with a specialist
If you wish to see a specialist, you will need a referral from a general practitioner. You will also need to show this referral to your insurance company if you wish the costs to be covered. Once you have a referral, you can make an appointment with the specialist directly. If you know the specialist you wish to see, you may request a referral to that person.