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Macron unveils five-year French healthcare overhaul

President Emmanuel Macron has today confirmed his plans to transform the French health system, including funding changes and closer links between clinics and hospitals.

The changes were first presented in February this year, but have now been confirmed by the President in person at the Élysée. They aim “not to spend less, but to spend better”.

The plan is set to come into law at the beginning of 2019, with a view to making significant changes within the next five years.

Among the measures, the President is aiming to make it easier for more people to access doctors and medication, amid reports that some areas of the country are becoming “medical deserts”.

The plan is also set to address problems within hospitals, where workers are said to feel a growing sense of disillusion due to working structures and medical pricing systems that favour “quantity over quality”.

Health minister Agnès Buzyn said in February: “We have one of the world’s best healthcare system, but it has started to malfunction due to lack of organisation adapted to people’s needs [including] older people, and people with chronic conditions.

“We have reached the end of a system that affects the quality of the service provided. We can do better to improve France’s quality of life.”

Today's Élysée statement reads: “We are starting again by prioritising the needs of patients, to place quality and preventative care at the heart [of the system].”

The health plan is also set to target “useless intervention”. The health minister has estimated that 30% of treatment actions were “useless or redundant”.

The plan states that there will ideally be no hospital closures, but a closer look at how healthcare is delivered.

The national map of hospitals and healthcare units will be re-evaluated, it said, with a view to creating closer links between community care centres, local doctors’ surgeries, and hospitals.

Some clinics may be enabled to treat more non-life threatening emergencies, to free up hospital space and encourage more “joined up” work between establishments.

The statement added: “High quality demands that we question which are the best activities for each area. Where a surgical unit is under-used, it compromises the quality of care. Community care must be done nearby, and advanced care done in advanced facilities.”

France is one of the highest-spending OECD on healthcare, with an annual bill of €199.3 billion (8.7% of GDP); the equivalent of  €2,977 per person per year.

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