The shortage of GPs is a growing problem in Twente and other parts of Overijssel. In Twente alone, 49 of the 300 general practitioners want to stop in the next five years. There is no successor for 34 of those practices. Practices are often overcrowded, sometimes with up to three thousand patients.
“The shortage of general practitioners worries us,” says Dirk Jan Sloots, financial chief of Menzis, one of the largest health insurers in Overijssel. “The GP has a very important place in our system; it is the patient’s first entrance to which he or she must go, the so-called gatekeeper.”
According to Sloots, there are various routes to get more general practitioners to the region. “We see that there is no shortage of general practitioners nationally, but there is in Twente. We also see that young general practitioners no longer always feel like taking over a practice and prefer to work in a health center, for example.”
We see that there is no shortage of general practitioners nationally, but there is in Twente
The Menzis CEO calls online consultations an important solution to the shortages. “For some conditions you have to go to the doctor and you want to sit in the doctor’s office. But for other conditions it might be nice if you can take a picture, show it and then get advice from the doctor.”
In that case, the GP in question can also live in, for example, the Randstad, says Sloots. “If the GPs in Twente do not have time or are full, you can get a consultation via a digital GP. He or she can then also live in a different place in the country, so no longer necessarily in Twente.”
But does an aging population really need digital consultations? In 2030 there will be an estimated twenty percent more people over the age of 65 in Twente. “People are increasingly able to work with those digital resources”, is the conviction of Sloots.
Health insurers normally announce their new health insurance premiums around this time of year. Menzis announced the premium for next year this morning. Salland Zorgverzekeringen in Deventer and Zilveren Kruis, which also have many policyholders in Overijssel, will announce the premium later this week.
Importance of Menzis
The CEO does have an interest to serve: to keep healthcare as cheap as possible. This morning it was announced that the health insurance premium of Menzis will increase by 3.25 euros per month. According to Sloots, the government must make stricter choices about which care remains in the basic package and which not, in order to keep care affordable.
“In Twente, for example, we see that the labor population is declining, so also the people who work in care. That is worrying and you have to find a solution,” says Sloots. Nevertheless, he remains positive. “We see it coming, so it’s not too late. And don’t forget that we have very good care in the Netherlands.”