Quick adaptation of the organisation of general practices during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands

BMC Prim Care. 2023 Aug 31;24(Suppl 1):170. doi: 10.1186/s12875-023-02114-5.


Background: General practices have adapted the practice organisation to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article we describe several adjustments in general practices in the field of patient flow management, appointments, triage, referral and infection prevention. We also examined how practices relate to the policy of the government and of the professional organisations during the pandemic.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted among a sample of 893 general practitioners (GPs) during February and March 2021. The response rate was 17%. Because the questionnaire concerns practices and not individual GPs, one practice owner per practice received an invitation with a link to the online questionnaire. One reminder has been sent.

Results: General practices adapted their organisation during the corona pandemic, partly based on information and advice from their professional organisations. The adjustments were necessary to ensure that patient care continued as much and as safely as possible, often remotely. The use of video consultations quickly increased from 6% to 65% of the practices. The cooperation with neighbouring practices improved and practices felt supported by the professional organisations.

Conclusions: The pandemic itself, remote care and stricter patient flow management have put pressure on the quality of care and patient safety. The accessibility of the practices was sometimes limited. In the perception of patients, this was stronger than in reality.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; General practice; Infectious disease; PRICOV-19 study; Practice organisation; Primary care; Quality of care; The Netherlands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control