Every two years, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) examines healthcare in 38 countries based on various factors. One of them is the ratio of doctors to residents. It shows that the number of doctors increased proportionately in ten years.
In all OECD countries, the number of doctors increased faster than the population size. As a result, the number of doctors per thousand inhabitants increased from 3.2 in 2011 to 3.7 in 2021. For the Netherlands this was 3.9 per thousand inhabitants in 2021.
This increase is partly due to an increase in the number of medical graduates per 100 thousand inhabitants. In the Netherlands, this increase was more than 50 percent in twenty years. This brought the counter to 15.5 graduates per 100 thousand inhabitants in 2021. That is just slightly above average. In some countries, international students accounted for a large part of the increase, such as in Romania and Ireland, while in other countries relatively many students went abroad to study medicine and returned to their home country after graduation, as in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Relatively few doctors from abroad work in the Netherlands, based on nationality. Only in Poland, Italy and Lithuania is that percentage even lower.
The income difference between medical specialists and general practitioners increased in many OECD countries, but not in the Netherlands. Here the difference actually decreased. Due to the shortage of general practitioners, a number of OECD countries are allocating more and more training places to general medicine. This also applies to the Netherlands. On average, less than a quarter of doctors in OECD countries are registered as general practitioners. The report does note that the definition of general practitioner differs between countries, which makes comparison difficult. It is striking that a number of countries have a relatively large share of doctors who are not (yet) in training, such as the Scandinavian countries. In the Netherlands, this so-called ‘basic doctor’s reservoir’ has received a lot of attention lately. This would involve around 12 thousand doctors.