23 February 2023, by Victoria Séveno

A report published by ABN Amro warns that, as residents of the Netherlands demand more from doctors and the healthcare system, the quality and accessibility of GP care is under increasing pressure. 

Ageing population and staff shortages placing pressure on doctors

The Netherlands is often praised for the quality of its healthcare system, but one Dutch bank has found that, while GPs play a crucial role in the availability and accessibility of care, it is becoming increasingly difficult for members of the public to access this care, and that workers’ shortages mean the “pressure on GP care will remain high” in the future.

A report published by ABN Amro this week notes that demand for doctors and GPs in the Netherlands is increasing due to a number of factors, most notably the ageing population, population growth, and the fact that young people are also increasingly likely to seek out advice from their GP. 

While demand is rising, the availability of care is falling. “Almost 2.500 GPs have reached the age of 60 or older. It is expected that a large number of these will stop working in the next five years” – 16,5 percent of GPs in the Netherlands are over the age of 60, while 20 percent are aged 55 or older. “In addition, there is a shortage of medical assistants,” ABN Amro writes.

Report calls for action to reduce pressure on Dutch healthcare system

These trends have already impacted the accessibility of GP care in the Netherlands. According to ABN Amro, the number of GP practices that are no longer taking on new patients has risen from 48 percent in 2018 to 60 percent. Research also found that, instead of the 15-minute consultation time patients are promised, GPs are only able to spend an average of just 11 minutes on each appointment. 

In the report, the bank calls on the Dutch government to ensure that more young people are encouraged to train to work in the medical profession and that more is done to ensure students opt for careers as GPs instead of taking on other roles.

Finally, the report recommends that more is done to improve communication and cooperation between regions, municipalities, and different branches of the healthcare system, noting that digitisation can help to improve the efficiency of healthcare in the Netherlands.

Thumb: DC Studio via Shutterstock.com.

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