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France fails on cancer plan

Failure to cut smoking is setback as health service fails to install enough MRI scanners to cut waiting times

FRANCE has missed many of the targets set in its four-year cancer plan – which saw a 15% budget shortfall between 2009 and 2012, a failure to reduce tobacco consumption, a failure to install sufficient new MRI scanners to match the European average and a failure to cut waiting times for MRI scans and for specialist appointments.

The Direction Générale de la Santé said the plan had, however, hit some of its targets; notably in improving the quality of treatment for children, for older patients and for those with rarer forms of cancer; creating more personalised treatments and getting more patients to take part in clinical trials (which rose from 21,745 in 2008 to 37,500 in 2012).

However, the failure to reduce tobacco consumption was seen as a major setback as it is the major cause of deaths from cancer in France – 25% of all cancer deaths – and during the four years more women and unemployed people had taken up smoking.

In addition, the delays for patients to get MRI scans were “still too long” and France still had half the European average number of scanners.

It has just 10.1 scanners per million inhabitants, while countries such as Denmark and Germany have 30. It can take an average of 30 days to get a scan – and the plan called for this delay to be cut to 15 days by 2010.

The DGS is preparing the next four-year plan, announced by President Hollande last December, and said that of the 118 points in the last plan 60% would be achieved by the end of this year.
Photo: Jan Ainali

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