Rector distances himself from general practitioner: ‘The reviews don’t lie’

| Rense Kuipers

The Executive Board is troubled by the general practitioner on campus and the associated complaints from students and staff. Rector Tom Veldkamp firmly and publicly distanced himself from the practice during a debate last week, but states that the UT is in no position to change the situation.

Building 'De Sleutel', where the GP is situated.

The topic coincidentally came up during a discussion on the workload of PhD candidates, where rector Tom Veldkamp was part of a discussion panel. Several people in the audience shared their complaints about the general practitioner. The firm reaction of the rector was remarkable. Not towards the audience, but regarding the GP and one of the doctors. ‘We completely disagree with everything this GP does,’ such were the words of Veldkamp.

‘Reviews don't lie’

The criticism of the GP practice that could be found in the Amphitheatre last Thursday was not an isolated case. The majority of the criticism is concentrated on one of the associated GPs. Saliently, the GP in question was suspended some ten years ago due to psychiatric problems and poor communication with his patients, which resulted in a conditional suspension after an appeal. More recently, students and staff have repeatedly shared their (negative) experiences with the practice online.

There is a wide range of (very mixed) online reviews regarding the practice, with complaints highlighting poor communication and long waiting times, among other things. The rector also acknowledges those reviews, commenting further on his earlier statements. ‘We are familiar with the complaints about the practice on campus. The reviews on social media like Facebook and Google Maps don't lie. We are also approached by students and staff who have had bad experiences.’ And the rector regrets that. ‘We deem it of the utmost importance that expert healthcare is available for our students and staff, while they also experience the healthcare environment as safe and pleasant.’

‘No formal role’

Parting ways with the GP practice is not possible, according to the rector. This is because the practice is located in the building ‘De Sleutel’ – which also houses the occupational health and safety services as well as a dental practice, among others. However, the UT only owns the land on which the building stands and has leased that land on a long-term basis.

‘It is difficult for us as a university to play a role in the complaints, since they often revolve around sensitive and personal situations and we do not have a formal role in that,’ Veldkamp states. He therefore stresses it is up to the patients themselves to file a complaint. ‘That is what we advise students and staff to do if they had a negative experience. It is true that not everyone wants to employ this relatively heavy measure, as it is quite time-consuming and intensive.’


The rector is now openly distancing himself from the practice. Previously, the university did so silently; not long ago, the UT was still actively referring students and staff to the practice on its website. That has since changed to a general information page with reference to the website

The GP practice is also marketing itself differently as of recently. The practice is listed as ‘UT Campus Huisartsenpraktijk’ and states the following on their website: ‘With its GP practice locations in Enschede on the campus of the UT and Saxion University of Applied Sciences, UT Campus General Practitioners Office is especially for all students and employees of the University of Twente and the Saxion University of Applied Sciences Enschede’.

‘Gatekeeper for specialised healthcare’

But the GP practice is not part of UT. Healthcare entrepreneur and GP practice owner Paul Drost also stresses this. He says he was caught off guard by the rector's words during the meeting and ‘deeply regrets that this was said’. ‘We are well aware of the expressed criticism. Every GP working here sees an average of 30 to 50 patients in a day. It is logical, then, that there is someone among them who is dissatisfied from time to time. But actual medical errors are exceptional. If there are interest groups within the university that want to have a discussion with me, for example from the PhD candidates, I am absolutely open to that. But then they have to seek me out.’

Drost also mentions the role of a GP within the Dutch healthcare system. ‘Unlike in most countries, a GP in the Netherlands acts as a kind of gatekeeper for specialised healthcare. I don't want to lump everyone together, but especially from international students and staff we notice that there are different expectations of Dutch basic care and a GP. In the Netherlands, we are not used to calling a GP in case of a cold or flu. People of international origin are more likely to ask for medication, while we advise them to recover at home. That kind of expectation management does pose a problem.’

Jammed healthcare system

Veldkamp expects more effort from the GP practice in that area. ‘We would like to see that international students are well informed about what to expect from a healthcare provider the moment they encounter them, so that they also have a good understanding of how the Dutch healthcare system works. That helps in the mutual expectations. We do our required part, but the GP practice could also be more proactive in this. We have also indicated that to them,’ the rector states.

However, both Drost and Veldkamp acknowledge that there is not much freedom of choice for UT students and staff due to the jammed Dutch healthcare system. ‘Due to the policies of the government, universities and health insurers, there is currently not a single GP available in Twente,’ says Drost. ‘In Enschede, we are virtually the only practice still accepting people. The average citizen – including someone from abroad – relies on us. To be eligible for healthcare, you have to be registered with a practice.’ And, Drost adds, ‘If you disagree with your GP; you have several practitioners to choose from with us. So you can even switch within the practice at any time.’

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