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UFC-Que Choisir takes the State to court for “inaction”

The UFC-Que Choisir association filed an appeal before the Council of State to denounce “inaction” of the government in the face of growing inequalities in access to care and to urge it to act, she announced on Tuesday, November 21, unveiling a study on “dramatic worsening” of medical demography.

“After years of negotiations with political decision-makers which remain unanswered, the UFC-Que Choisir today appeals to the Council of State to have the culpable government inaction noted and punished” and for “defend the constitutional right to health”writes the association in a press release.

She denounces in particular “the stubborn refusal of the authorities to regulate the installation of doctors” and invites the French to sign and “share massively” a petition titled “I accuse the State”.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Faced with medical deserts, twenty years of political hesitation

“Medical desertification is increasing”

Around 10 a.m., around ten members of the UFC-Que Choisir gathered silently in front of the Ministry of Health, brandishing signs and hanging construction tape around them, to symbolize “impossible access” taking care.

“We will have succeeded when all French people have access to a doctor, both geographically and (from one point of view) financial (…) when the regulation of the installation will no longer be taboo” And “that we will regulate fee overruns”summarized the president of the association, Marie-Amandine Stévenin.

General practitioners, gynecologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians: UFC-Que Choisir has updated its interactive map of inequalities in access to doctors “direct access”developed in 2022 based on public data and scientific literature. “Unsurprisingly, medical desertification is increasing, due to increasing needs” and a “wave of retirements”she observes.

A “catastrophic” situation

The study crosses two criteria: the geographical distance of doctors – the “deserts” being characterized by a density 60% lower than the average for specialists located less than forty-five minutes away by road, or thirty minutes for general practitioners – and the prices charged.

Thus, 19.3% of French people reside in an ophthalmology medical desert, 24.8% of women in a gynecological medical desert and 28.9% of children in a pediatric medical desert, analyzes the UFC.

By excluding practitioners who overcharge fees, “the situation is becoming absolutely catastrophic” : more than one child in two lives in a place deserted by pediatricians, 59.3% of French people in a medical desert for ophthalmologists, and 69.6% of women for gynecologists, deplores the UFC.

General practitioners are better distributed, with 2.6% of patients classified as medical desert, or 1.7 million people, to which the association adds 21% of patients with a “difficult access” (density at least 30% lower than average). Between 2021 and 2023, 44.4% of the population “has seen accessibility to general practitioners deteriorate”.

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Volunteers anonymously contacted 2,642 GPs to ask if they would be willing to follow them as a GP. The majority (51.5%) refused, compared to 44% in a previous survey in 2019. Most were already following too many patients (74%), or were soon to retire (12%). The association also contacted 761 ophthalmologists, 28% of whom refused to schedule an appointment, the majority offering very long deadlines, 65 days on average.

Read also: Should we force doctors to settle in medical deserts? Understand in three minutes

The World with AFP

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