Jan van Es

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 12 August 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1270
  1. Tony Sheldon

    Godfather of Dutch general practice and pioneer of evidence based primary care

    Today in the Netherlands 96% of patients are seen first by their general practitioner. A share of that achievement—and the fact that there is research to show it—rests with one man, known as “the Godfather” of Dutch general practice, Professor Jan van Es. For Van Es, the holder of the second university chair in general practice in the world, helped lay the bedrock for evidence based primary care medicine and professional training, and with it, the strong position of general practitioners in Dutch health care.

    Van Es’ own medical education got off to a troubled start. He was just two years into his medical training at Utrecht University when the Nazi occupation began in 1940. Just like countless other medical colleagues, he refused to sign a “statement of loyalty” to the German occupiers in 1943 and was forced into hiding. He eventually qualified in April 1947. His life’s professional vocation was further delayed, however, while he fulfilled two years’ national service in the Royal Marines. Even here, there was evidence of his future work as he launched a rehabilitation centre for marines injured or taken ill during action …

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