At least a third of the general practitioners in Eindhoven have to curb the number of patients they can see.
Research by Omroep Brabant has shown that 16 out of 45 Eindhoven GPs surveyed do not take on new patients.
“The main cause is that doctors are getting busier and busier. We get a lot of referrals from the hospital and the mental health sector. So the number of patients coming through our doors is increasing”, Dr Peter Meulesteen tells Omroep Brabant. “The number of general practitioners is also decreasing. Many female doctors only practice part-time. This causes a decrease in the number of doctors.”
Huisartsenpost under pressure
According to Meulesteen, some patients do not visit a GP. “If they do have a complaint, they visit the Huisartsenpost after 17:00″. The practices that do receive patients get a massive influx of these and are thus under more pressure. “We have seen practices fail because they got so busy,” says Meulesteen.
A Huisartsenpost is a GP centre is that has several doctors who provide care outside of regular office hours. These are usually for medical care that cannot wait until the next working day. There are about 130 of these Huisartsenpost centres in the Netherlands.
One of the biggest players in GP care in Eindhoven is Stichting Gezondheidscentra Eindhoven (Eindhoven Health Care Centers Foundation) or SGE. The SGE has eleven health centers and 75,000 patients in Eindhoven. There is a patient cap at seven of its centers.
“We are running up against the limits of what is still responsible. We want to continue to provide good care”, Dr Ed Berends says. He is a GP and one of SGE’s Directors. “More and more tasks are being added.”
More doctors needed
“It’s almost impossible to do, with the people we have. Growth is not an issue then;, you have to come to a halt. That is, however, a bad thing. A doctor does not like to say ‘no’. You cannot do that in a city like Eindhoven. We want to be a big city. Then you have to have the facilities in order. You need human resources for that, and that is currently was is lacking”.
Every year many expats come to live in Eindhoven and work for companies such as ASML. “If Eindhoven does not get more GPs immediately, it is going to become a real problem. We see it in Meerhoven. We have had a center there for a long time. ”
“It can deal with 6,000 to 7,000 patients. It is growing rapidly and now sees close to 11,000 patients. The neighbourhood is not ready yet. The health centre has reached its limits. But, the neighbourhood has not. We are looking for a way forward”, Berends says.
Doctors do not stay put
Berends would prefer to hire extra doctors, but that is not working. More and more doctors in Eindhoven work as freelancers, without their own practice. And, therefore, without their own patients. “It’s a new phenomenon. We did not anticipate that well enough”, he says. “A lot of doctors observe for a few days. Or a few weeks or months. After that, they move on. That is not good for patients”.
“I hope people take more responsibility. They can do more themselves. Thuisarts.nl is a site where they can find good information. And I hope the freelancers settle down in Eindhoven and start their practices here”, Berends concludes.
Editor: Melinda Walraven