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Access to healthcare in Occitanie: 'The worst is yet to come' according to doctors

Access to healthcare in Occitanie: ‘The worst is yet to come’ according to doctors

Doctor shortages are no longer a problem confined to rural areas. Forecasts are not optimistic for the next ten years.

Get care across the territory. This is a topic that is brought up regularly and is no longer the only problem for rural municipalities. Today, there is a shortage of doctors everywhere, especially general practitioners. “Within five years, 30% of Occitanie’s resident physicians will retire. We are at the dawn of a storm and the worst is to come in the next 10 years, particularly in peri-urban areas that will see large populations arriving but not caregivers,” says Dr. Jean-Christophe Calmes, president of the Liberal Physicians within the Regional Union of Health Professionals (URPS Occitanie). The organization has just published a large-scale survey on the difficulties of accessing care in general medicine in Occitanie, in connection with the zoning work of the Regional Health Agency (ARS Occitanie).

60% of GPs believe they can no longer accept new patients

Other than preliminary statistics (a third of GPs in Occitanie are over 60 years of age; a third of liberal GPs practice in dense urban areas, a third in intermediate areas and a third in rural areas), the number of consultations per capita appears to decrease significantly in 80% of region and that 60% of GPs no longer feel able to accept new patients, regardless of region.

Dr. Jean-Christophe Calmes summarizes “It is not that we do not want to cure, it is that we cannot cure”, that medicine can meet demand only on the single condition “that it be reformed and that it works side by side with the elected officials, representatives of the respective territories, users and health professionals”. We need elected officials to help us, especially on the issue of rents and buildings. But let’s not move in a disorganized way! It is not enough to provide them with places to fill with doctors. The attractiveness of the territory is important, especially to spouses of doctors, to their families. It is also necessary to consider the formation of a team around the doctor to delegate certain tasks”, further analysis to the doctor.

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“Do not speak of a medicinal desert, but of a territorial desert”

In terms of occupation order, the observation is identical. I am against the use of the term medicinal desert. When there is no public service, shops, cultural venues, and nursing homes, it is a regional desert! says Dr. Jean Tefnot, President of the Council of the Medical Association of Occitanie. Certainly, coercion will not work.

If we force young doctors to settle in areas they don’t want to go to, they will change their specialties or careers. It is better to create desire than to make things obligatory and to develop training grounds during training. Some regions of Aveyron have succeeded in doing this by encouraging internships for trainees, facilitating their stay and working on communication and attractiveness”, continues Jean Thévenot, paying attention to the policy initiated by the Occitanie region. “Opening medical centers with paid doctors, as the region does, is one solution. But we have to be careful and ask ourselves the question of the area we have installed and see, for example, who will take the extra patients after 6 pm.”

Train as needed

As for delegating tasks, Jean Thévenot remains cautious: “Every profession has its skills, and there are obvious shortcomings in all disciplines, but there is also suffering and misfortune, and not only between nurses and caregivers. The entire organization of care must be rethought, the entire population needs to Support and academics who need the crowd to train, not the number of doctors they can train but the number that corresponds to an estimated need.”

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