Report: Six month wait for specialist care in France

In some parts of the country, it can take up to six months to see an ophthamologist

A new report has found significant delays in the amount of time people in France must wait before being able to see some doctors, with some specialists not available for up to six months.

The ministry for health published the report this week, based on a study of 21,700 French people.

It found that up to half of people who need to see an ophthalmologist or dermatologist may need to wait for over seven weeks (up to 52 days and 50 days respectively). The average wait time to see a dermatologist was 34 days.

But one in ten people may be forced to wait for up to six months to see an ophthalmologist.

The report said that after financial issues, these delays were one of the main “brakes” on access to care.

In contrast, general practitioners (GPs) are much more accessible, the report said, with most people able to get a GP appointment within two days.

Pediatric doctors are also more accessible, as are dentists, with appointments for the latter usually available within eight days at the most.

The report’s sample size did not allow the ministry to draw “a map” of the national access to care, but the study did conclude that residents in the Paris region will have quicker access to specialists than people living in more rural parts of the country.

In Paris, the average wait time to see an ophthalmologist was 29 days, versus 66 in the rest of the country.

The delay in seeing an ophthalmologist was not a surprise. Last week, the official French state watchdog La Cour des Comptes at Rue Cambon (Paris) acknowledged the problem.

It suggested that a solution could be to train opticians to prescribe glasses and contact lenses, and monitor simple eye conditions.

This would make it easier for new patients to get glasses and lenses, and free up ophthalmologists to care for patients with more serious eye complaints.

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