If you're coming to Eindhoven, it's a good idea to prepare well. On the one hand you'll first have to complete a number of formalities. And on the other hand, it's worth finding out more about the character of the Dutch and some of their customs that may appear a bit unusual to outsiders.
Choosing a doctor
Each doctor has a catchment area, and as a general rule you should pick one close to your home. Select a practice based on the postcode - ideally it should be within one number of your postcode. Be prepared to call several practices as many are full. In general it is easier to join a large consortium such as the Association of Health Centres in Eindhoven (Stichting Gezondheidscentra Eindhoven SGE).
All local doctors have the same education and are approved by the Dutch authorities, but you can make an appointment to meet a GP and discuss your personal requirements before deciding whether to register with them. It is always useful to take along your medical records from your home country.
Some questions you may consider asking are:
Do both the receptionist and the doctor speak a language you understand?
What is the policy on house visits?
What detection screening tests are done, and how regularly?
Do patients always need an appointment or is there an open consultation (spreekuur)?
Is there a specific time when patients can phone?
What should you do if you need a doctor at weekends or during the night?
When going to register, take:
Details of your health insurance
Medical records, if possible.
How to find a doctor
You can find a list of doctors for your area in your Community Guide (gemeentegids), which is available from the Town Hall (Gemeentehuis) and/or attached to the White Pages. Doctors are listed under Gezondheidszorg or Artsen and in the Yellow Pages (www.goudengids.nl) under artsen.
If you need emergency care you should call 112 for an ambulance or go directly to your local hospital emergency centre. For less urgent issues you should contact your family doctor.
If your own doctor is unavailable an answer phone may give a standby doctor's number.
If the standby doctor is unavailable call the central doctors post (CHP centrale huisartsen post) - the telephone number for the Eindhoven region is 0900 8861. They are located at the Maxima Medisch Centrum Eindhoven, Dominee Theodor Fliednerstraat 1, Eindhoven.
Emergencies (spoedeisende hulp)
The emergency services operate under the 112 telephone number. A central operator will ask you what services you require and transfer you locally to someone who can send help.
You can also go to a first aid department (EHBO) at a nearby hospital. Try to take your insurance details with you - it will make things easier and quicker.
If you need emergency care you should call 112 for an ambulance or go directly to your local hospital emergency centre. In a non-emergency situation your doctor will organise your treatment and hospitalisation - you will have an appointment at the hospital.
On your first visit you need to take identification and details of your health insurance. You will then be given a plastic identification card (ponskaartje) - all your appointments and treatment are registered with this card. You will need this card for any subsequent treatment at that hospital, so keep it safe!
If needed, the hospitals in the region will send you through to a university hospital (such as in Maastricht, Nijmegen, Utrecht or Amsterdam).
List of hospitals in and around Eindhoven
Catharina Ziekenhuis, Eindhoven
Michelangelolaan 2, 5623 EJ Eindhoven
http://www.catharina-ziekenhuis.nl/ (in Dutch)
Elkerliek ziekenhuis, Deurne
Henri Dunantweg 16, 5751 CB Deurne
http://www.elkerliek.nl/ (in Dutch)
Elkerliek Ziekenhuis, Helmond
Wesselmanlaan 25, 5707 HA Helmond
http://www.elkerliek.nl/ (in Dutch)
Máxima Medisch Centrum, Eindhoven
Ds. Th. Fliednerstraat 1, Eindhoven
http://www.mmc.nl/ (in Dutch)
Máxima Medisch Centrum, Veldhoven
De Run 4600, Veldhoven
http://www.mmc.nl/ (in Dutch)
St. Annaziekenhuis, Geldrop (part of St. Anna Zorggroep)
Bogardeind 2, 5664 EH Geldrop
http://www.st-anna.nl/ (in Dutch)
Your dentist can be located anywhere convenient for you, so you are free to choose any practice.
Ask if they operate an emergency service
Ask about the use of anaesthetic. Many people in the Netherlands choose not to have anaesthetics for routine work. However, you can always ask for anaesthetic.
Dentists have no catchment area.
How to find a dentist
Dentists are listed in the Community Guides and Yellow Pages (www.goudengids.nl) under tandartsen.
In an emergency call your own dentist, who will try to see you that same day. If you have no response from your dentist, call the General Dentist Emergency Service (Algemene Tandarts Spoedgevallendienst), listed in the Community Guide (gemeentegids) under Tandarts: 0900 543 7745. Be prepared to pay cash (and recover it later through your insurance, if covered).
In the Netherlands it is a good idea to register with a pharmacy in the same way as with a doctor or dentist - choose one that is convenient for you.
Pharmacists in the Netherlands are highly trained (do not be confused by the assistants who work at the counter, the pharmacist often works behind the scenes). The pharmacist can advise you on medicines you use at home, and you can make an appointment to discuss any questions you have.
It is not necessary to register until you go to get medicines. In order to do so you will need:
Name and address of your doctor.
Details of health insurance.
How to find a pharmacist
You can find a nearby pharmacy by asking your GP, or by looking in the Yellow Pages (www.goudengids.nl) under apotheken. Look at the postcode to find one convenient to you.
You can visit an optician on any high street without an appointment. They will test your eyes and can prescribe glasses. They will also test for glaucoma. An optician can neither treat eye diseases nor make referrals. If you have problems with your eyes go to your doctor.
How to find an optician
See the Yellow Pages (www.goudengids.nl) under opticiens.
A list of local practices for alternative medicine can be found under Natuur- en alternatieve geneeswijzen in your Community Guide.
Municipal and Regional Health Service (GGD)
The GGD is the municipal health organisation for preventive healthcare. They services they offer include screenings, check-ups for school age children, immunisation, etc. They are also responsible for the medical screenings that are sometimes required to obtain a residence permit, such as chest X-Rays to check for tuberculosis.
Once you have registered at the Town Hall, the GGD will let you know automatically which immunisation programme (if any) that you need to follow.
For more information visit: http://www.ggd.nl/ (in Dutch)
Pregnancy and Childbirth (zwangerschap en geboorte)
There are several practical things to know and do.
You have to report to your local doctor after 4-6 weeks pregnancy. He/she will give you all the information you need for the follow-up.
Most Dutch midwives and doctors prefer not to interfere with the natural process of labour and delivery. Medical pain relief is normally not used. Talk to your practitioner early in the pregnancy about your preferences, especially concerning pain relief. Courses are organised to educate women in the process of childbirth and to teach pain relief through breathing techniques and massage.
You should decide early in the pregnancy where you want to deliver. Remember, home delivery is advocated but by no means compulsory!
After the baby is born the Home Care Association (Thuiszorg) will provide home nursing and care for both mother and baby. This includes monitoring for the first eight days. You can choose between four, six or eight hours a day. The maternity assistant will provide personal nursing care for mother and baby, and also practical support in the household, such as cooking and cleaning. Make an appointment with the maternity care coordinator (kraamzorg manager) for the seventh month of your pregnancy. Make the appointment well in advance if you can. You will be able to ask for the services you would like to receive and will be told what the maternity care team need from you. It is important to inform the Thuiszorg organisation that you require support
The midwife will visit you at home in the first week after the baby is born. If you have seen a gynaecologist instead of a midwife you must go to their clinic for appointments or arrange for your doctor or midwife to visit you at home. You will have a final post-natal check up 6 weeks after the baby is born. Your baby will be monitored and get further immunisations via regular visits to the baby clinic (consultatie bureau).
Pregnancy and childbirth - where to find what you need
It is easiest to get the information you need from your family doctor or GP. In case you wish to find the information yourself, here are some search terms: