In case of a life-threatening emergency call 112. This number is available 24 hours a day and will give you access to all emergency services: ambulance, police and fire brigade. In a medical emergency, you will also be instructed what to do until the ambulance arrives.
Other urgent medical matters
For other, non-life-threatening, medical emergencies during office hours, first call your GP. The GP practice will have a separate emergency number or a voice response system that will give you immediate access to your care provider. You will usually speak to the GP assistant first, and then the GP if necessary. For urgent matters, the GP will visit you at home immediately if necessary. If you need to go to hospital, the GP will call the ambulance and the specialist at the hospital who will take over your medical care.
Evenings, nights and weekends: out-of-hours service (huisartsenpost or HAP)
When the GP practice is closed, you can call the out-of-hours service for medical emergencies. The out-of-hours service (huisartsenpost in Dutch, abbreviated HAP) is a central office where GPs are available on call.
If you call your GP’s practice out of hours, their answering machine will tell you (often in Dutch) which phone numbers you can call for GP care and in case of emergencies. You can also usually find the number for the out-of-hours service on your GP practice’s website. Pharmacies also have this procedure out of hours.
When you call the out-of-hours service, you will speak to a specially trained GP assistant. He or she will ask you your name, date of birth and health insurance details, after which you explain what the problem is. The assistant will ask you questions to determine how serious your situation is. This is called triage. Sometimes discussing your problem with the assistant and getting advice from him or her is enough. Sometimes the GP on duty will need to call you back. In other cases, you will make an appointment to see a GP at the out-of-hours service. It may also be necessary for the GP to visit you at home. This subtitled video will tell you more about the out-of-hours service.
Mental health crisis
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, contact your general practitioner (GP) or the out-of-hours service (huisartsenpost) immediately. If necessary, the GP can contact the local Crisis Intervention Team (available 24/7).
If the crisis involves someone with suicidal thoughts, you can also call 0800-0113 or 113, an anonymous helpline.