France may not see a significant increase in doctor numbers for another 10 years, the country’s health minister has admitted, as he explained plans to reduce GPs’ load of time-consuming administrative tasks.
“The truth is that we won’t see more doctors within the next 10 years,” said François Braun to FranceInter on Wednesday (May 3). He admitted this is “insufficient, even if we are improving year-on-year”.
The comments came as part of a presentation of conclusions from the Conseil national de la refondation sur la santé, which saw more than 250 meetings take place, in which 10,000 people took part. The aim was to “simplify our citizens’ lives” with more than 100 projects that are “being finalised”, he said.
Mr Braun added he was working to “change the way that doctors work” by ending all of the “useless bureaucratic tasks”, such as “medical certificates that don’t prove anything”.
He said: “I’m not asking doctors to work more, but to work differently.” He added that he would send a letter to “all ministers concerned, to all local and regional authorities” to remind them of this advice and to reassure them the “law will not change”.
‘Totally absurd’ certificates
The minister said that the current system requires people to “ask [for certificates] for anything and everything”, even when there is no need (such as to prove that a young boy in good health can run before he is permitted to play school football).
Mr Braun specified another example, saying: “When your child is ill, you have to ask for a medical certificate so you don’t have to pay those days of creche. But then far too many creches also ask for a medical certificate to prove that the child is no longer ill, so they can come back to creche.
“It’s totally absurd. These certificates should no longer be done; doctors will refuse.”
The minister added that he was working with Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra to “stop these [sporting] medical certificates completely”. He said that while it might be “logical” to get a medical certificate for people “who compete”, he criticised other requests.
“When you’re doing sport for leisure, and you’re 15 years old and have no health problems…I think we need to be reasonable,” he said. From September, non-competition certificates will no longer be required, he said.
It comes after the government said that addressing the problem of medical deserts was a major priority.
Mr Braun said: “The government can and will act. There is a part of the population that is complaining, which is suffering when it comes to health and care.”
On other issues, the minister said:
- He was against charging people who do not honour their medical appointments
- He would not impose a mandatory geographical posting on doctors
- He was in favour of banning disposable e-cigarettes because they “bring part of our young population towards smoking…which is a plague that causes 75,000 deaths per year”, he said.
The minister added he would “hunt down establishments that do not follow the rules” when it comes to intern doctors after 30,000 of them protested last week against what they said were poor apprenticeship or internship conditions.
Mr Braun said: “Some doctors rely too much on these interns, who are training doctors, who you can give reasonable responsibilities appropriate to their training level. But you can’t learn your job [properly] by working 80 to 100 hours a week.”
Mr Braun also addressed comments by President Emmanuel Macron that he was aiming to improve shortages in hospitals by the end of next year.
He said he was “absolutely certain” that this objective would be reached but that he would “aim to work on emergency departments” as early as possible and widen “access to care” across the entire country “before the end of the year”.
He said: “We will launch a major recruitment campaign for medical regulation assistants from this month.”
Hospital shortages have been intensifying in recent years, with healthcare workers going on repeated strikes against “disastrous” shortages, “dangerous conditions”, and a “desperate” system.