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5 million people in France not registered with GP

More than 5 million people in France were not registered with a regular GP in 2019, despite more than half having actively looked for one to register with, a healthcare expert has said.

Nicolas Revel, director general of French social security agency Assurance Maladie, revealed the issue in an interview with specialist medical magazine Le Généraliste this week.

He said: “There have always been, over the past few years, around 10% of patients without a regular GP. In 2019, this was the case for 5.4 million patients. Of these, some of the younger and healthier patients have not tried to find one.

“But more than half of people without a regular GP are really on the hunt for a qualified practitioner, often because they haven’t been able to find one [for example] after their previous GP retired.”

Mr Revel added: “We are very alert to this situation. Among those concerned include a significant number of patients with long-term conditions, who are aged over 70, or who are suffering from a chronic illness.

“If we do nothing, this trend will inevitably grow in the next few years.”

According to a November 2019 study by consumer association UFC-Que Choisir, more than two in five (44%) of GPs in France are not currently accepting new patients.

But Mr Revel said that he would like to see GPs increasing the average number of patients on their books - the national average per GP is currently at 850 - with the help of “medical assistants” to ease the extra workload.

This is a newly-created role for the profession, Mr Revel said, with more than 500 such contracts having been signed since September 2019 (238 signed, and 271 in process).

Yet, he said that the Assurance Maladie would not look to financially penalise people who do not have a regular GP, and would instead “identify patients in this situation, and take measures to ensure they are not affected”.

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