Profession under scrutiny: general practitioner

A GP is often the first point of contact for people with complaints: whether these are major or minor complaints, medical or psychological. A general practitioner therefore has many different tasks and deals with very different people. This makes the profession versatile and challenging. General practitioners are generally affiliated with the National Association of General Practitioners. The salary of a general practitioner is twice average. However, this can vary considerably per GP. Education, experience and age play a role in this.


To become a general practitioner, various training courses are required. First, a VWO diploma is required, with physics and health sciences and mathematics B1+2. Or nature and technology with biology 1+2. An HBO diploma or WO diploma with physics1, chemistry1, biology 1+2 and mathematics B1 also suffices. Subsequently, students follow a university course in Medicine. You then follow the Medical Specialization course to become a general practitioner. In total, one has been studying for nine years.


As a general practitioner you work independently or as an employee. Two examples:

General practitioner with University education 1:

  • gross annual salary: 80,000 euros
  • number of working hours: 40 per week
  • work experience: 2-3 years
  • type of contract: permanent employment

General practitioner with University education 2:

  • gross annual salary: 50,000 euros
  • number of working hours: 40 per week
  • work experience: 1 year
  • type of contract: permanent employment

Please note: these are only examples of two working general practitioners in 2010. No rights can be derived from this.

Function GP

As a general practitioner you have to deal with many different types of diseases and conditions. The GP keeps patient data, receives patients and listens to their complaints. He conducts medical examination of the patient. The GP prescribes medication and/or refers the patient to a specialist. The GP also provides information in many areas such as sexuality, smoking, sports and injuries, childhood diseases, etc. The GP maintains contacts with other specialists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, midwives and other medical authorities. The general practitioner has a duty of professional secrecy: this means that he or she may not provide information to third parties without the patient’s permission. Sometimes the court can request the GP to pass on this information.

Professional organization

The National Association of General Practitioners (LHV) represents the interests of its affiliated members. More than 90 percent of all general practitioners are affiliated with this. There is no obligation to be affiliated with this. There is also the Dutch Association of General Practitioners (NHG), which is a scientific association to which almost all general practitioners are affiliated. If a patient has problems or complaints about the GP, he or she can first contact the GP himself. They can then turn to a disputes committee. Switching to another GP is also possible, provided that the other GP is still accepting new patients.

GP in the news

A Belgian general practitioner took an HIV test from a woman from Leuven. Two weeks later he told the woman she was HIV positive. The woman was so shocked by this that she did not even want to live anymore and thought about suicide. The woman went to a hospital for a second opinion, where it was determined that she was HIV negative. The doctor dismissed it as nothing, he said that the woman should be happy with the good news. The judge demanded 750 euros in moral damages for the woman from the GP. We encounter these types of medical errors more often, not only with general practitioners but also with other medical specialists. Sometimes it is even intentional.