If everyone agrees that medical deserts are a real problem in France, the solutions proposed to stop having them are far from unanimous.

This Thursday morning, the Assembly was studying a bill to remove them.

After long debates, it was finally rejected for lack of agreement.

The text of deputy Sébastien Jumel was retested article by article via “deletion amendments” from the LREM group, all widely voted on.

Sébastien Jumel denounced a situation leading to “daily tragedies”, with 11 million French people from metropolitan or overseas facing “a lack of healthcare”.

The problem is so deep that the expression "medical desert" has "entered into everyday language", he noted, and that it has fueled the anger of "yellow vests".

Disagreements on how to deal with the problem

One of the main measures of this text aimed to “generalize” public service employment contracts (CESP) for medical students, in order to assign them, once operational, to under-medicalized areas for a few years.

The proposal also pleaded for a "network of the hospital care system guaranteeing access to a health establishment less than 30 minutes from home by motorized transport", in particular for surgical and maternity services.

All speakers recognized the importance of the problem, with differences focusing on ways to tackle it.

Stéphanie Rist (LREM) lambasted the proposed measures, "demagogic and ineffective", some based on "coercion".

Isabelle Valentin (LR) considered that "the method does not seem good".

Towards a regulated installation of doctors

The Minister for Autonomy, Brigitte Bourguignon, notably highlighted the government's decision to abolish the “numerus clausus” which limited the number of medical students despite a sharply increasing demand for care.

She also highlighted the measures taken to counter medical desertification by supporting local structures or by developing telemedicine.

Some in the majority or on the right, however, pleaded to explore new avenues, in terms of installing doctors in particular.

"There is indeed a subject", assured the UDI Thierry Benoît, by estimating that it was necessary "as much freedom as possible, as much regulation as necessary".

“Maybe at some point we will have to think about a regulated installation of doctors,” also said Geraldine Bannier, of the MoDem.

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