Wait to see health specialists grows in France: here is what to expect

Now an average of 10 days to see a GP as delays increase across the board

More than 250,000 endoscopy appointments have been cancelled in four years
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The waiting time to see certain healthcare professionals in France has more than doubled in the last five years, a new report shows.

Increased waiting times have hit “across the board… for the majority of specialists”, says the Fédération hospitalière de France (FHF) and France Info, who compiled the information.

It takes on average 10 days to see a GP when making an appointment in 2024, compared to only 4 in 2019.

Other average waiting times that have seen significant increases include:

  • 2 months to see an ENT - ‘Ear Nose Throat’ specialist (ORL in French) in 2024 compared with 1 month and 1 week in 2019

  • 2 months in 2024 to see a gynaecologist compared with 1 month and 3 weeks in 2019

  • 2 months and 2 weeks to see a cardiologist in 2024 compared with 1 month and 3 weeks in 2019

The issue is particularly present in rural areas, where waits can be up to 52% longer than in larger towns and cities.

The FHF also reports that 3.5 million medical appointments have been cancelled since the Covid-19 crisis began due to a lack of beds or medical professionals available.

This includes 260,000 endoscopies, said Thierry Gebel, FHF representative in the Grand-Est region to FranceBleu.

These can be used to check for advancement of certain cancers, or symptoms of illness present in the digestive tract including vomiting and internal bleeding.

In addition, 7% of hospital spaces for overnight stays (‘beds’) have closed in the last four years.

Read more: €30 doctor fees, less drugs: how healthcare could change in France

More people using emergency services

In addition to data over specialist appointments, the FHF and France Info released a public opinion barometer showing French attitudes to the healthcare system.

It takes into account changes over the previous four years – i.e since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the first lockdown in France.

The barometer shows French people are losing faith in the healthcare system: more than 60% of French adults reported ‘giving up’ on having at least one medical appointment or procedure in the last five years due to the difficulty in securing an appointment.

More than half (54%) said they have visited an emergency room (urgences) for a non-urgent reason since 2019 as they could not secure another appointment, compared to 42% in 2019.

More than a quarter of French people choose to go to A&E because of a lack of alternatives, even as these centres are being forced to close.

Read more: Growing strain on hospital emergency units in France, some closures

Even when they attempt to get an appointment, over 50% of people say they have struggled to get one, either because their doctor is overworked or the treatment they need is unavailable.

For more information on French healthcare and hospitals consult our guide to Healthcare in France.

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