Europe faces massive shortage of doctors, zooming in on France
The European continent is facing a dire shortage of young doctors as countries battle to attract junior doctors to replace retirees.
The French rural town of La Vigan is heading towards a crisis that might result in closing down the medical centre in town, a Politico article said.
In an issue that is impacting the whole EU, there have been challenges to take on new medical doctors as the existing ones are nearing retirement age.
The continent is also facing a shortage of doctors that are able to take on the practice from retirees.
The town, in an effort to attract new doctors, established a new multipurpose medical centre to appeal to young doctors.
However, five years following the launch of the center, the attempt has failed to bring in new doctors to the rural town, despite the city having around 4,000 residents, according to Politico.
Health geographer and research fellow at the Institute for Research and Information in Health Economics Guillaume Chevillard says that 30% of France's population reside in areas with poor access to doctors, which accounts for nearly 7 million people.
There are now more GPs in France retiring than there are new ones setting up a practice. The number of GPs already dropped by 5.6 percent between 2012 and 2021.
The country witnessed a drop in the number of doctors per capita in the 9 years from 325 per 100,000 individuals to 318.
The numerous clauses enforced by the French government were adopted in 1971, setting a quota on the number of medical students passing the first year of studies.
The drop is all the more challenging in the face of a glaring reality: France, like the rest of Europe, is aging, and healthcare needs are growing as a result.
However, this dilemma is not limited to France.
Europe is also facing an aging demography that requires health care services that are not being attended to.
In an attempt to manage this crisis, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed last month a plan to motivate doctors on the verge of retirement to remain in practice.
Around 10% of the doctors in France today remain in practice past their retirement.
Sarada Das, The secretary general for the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), an organization that represents national medical associations across Europe, said that the shortage of GPs "is really a problem that affects all of our members."
“At its core, it's really that there is the perception that potentially medicine is no longer an attractive career choice, a choice for people to stay in for a whole career. And this will really endanger the sustainability of health care systems in the future,” Das added.
Due to increased work pressure and mental health issues facing a large number of young doctors, many of them have either quit the field or are considering quitting.