Out-of-hours number for GPs is tested

White-coated doctor with a stethoscope
Using the 116 117 line will put callers in touch an our-of-hours GP for advice and other support

Three regions will try out 116 117 before the on-call service is opened across the country

People living in Normandy, Pays-de-la-Loire and Corsica will be able to try out a new helpline number from today that puts them in touch with an on-call GP at night, the weekend or on public holidays.

The three regions will test the 116 117 number outside normal office hours when a GP will be available to give advice, organise a home visit or call in other emergency support as needed.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine wants the number to be available nationwide by the end of the year.

Until now it has been difficult for people to find outside-hours contact details for a GP and many call the 15 emergency number for information when this 24/7 number is meant for medical emergencies, to get in touch with the SAMU.

On-call GPs will be available on 116 117 from 20.00 each night, from noon on Saturday at weekends and all day on public holidays. The number is not available at other times.

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Ms Touraine said the number was meant to be simple and easily memorable and intended to replace the host of different numbers provided in different departments which restricted people’s access to health care.

France has several free numbers that get directly to various emergency services from a landline, such as 15 for urgent medical aid or SAMU, 17 for the police or Gendarmerie, 18 for pompiers – this is often also often used for urgent medical aid – while the 112 number is available across Europe to contact emergency services from a mobile (and landline).

A special number is available for emergency calls for SMS or fax using 114 – a service used by a man in Le Havre who called police for help silently while burglars were in his house… the burglars were caught.

The new GP number will give France 12 emergency numbers:

15: SAMU (medical emergency)

17: Police

18: Firefighters (pompiers are also paramedics and can respond quickly to heart attacks etc)

112: Europe-wide emergency number

114: Text-message emergency number for deaf/hard of hearing

115: SAMU social (domestic violence/care for homeless in winter)

116000: Missing children

116117: Out-of-hours GP

119: Social services (mistreated children)

191: Aeronautical emergency

196: Maritime emergency/coastguard

197: Terror/kidnapping hotline

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