“SOS Médecins is the satisfaction of helping patients quickly. Jean-Christophe Masseron, president of SOS Médecins France, left his office in 2014 to join a medical team “which moves to the bedside of the patient”.
In ten years of practice in Chambéry (Savoie), he has seen the nature of the requests for consultation change and the telephone antennas saturate. “Almost half of the calls are due to excessive delays in obtaining an appointment with a general practitioner,” he observes.
“An additional emergency service”
Originally, however, SOS Médecins was thought of as an emergency service capable of intervening in “complementarity with the work of a general practitioner”. In 1966, one of Dr. Marcel Lascar’s patients died of a heart attack on a Saturday because he was unable to reach a doctor. At that time, the Samu did not exist and the idea of home visits, imagined following the tragedy by this Parisian professional, was revolutionary. “Today, SOS Médecins has 63 branches in France and 1,300 associated doctors, but a home visit in the context of a crisis in the health system is still not recognized at its fair value”, regrets Jean-Christophe Masson.
On the front line in the face of the progression of medical deserts, SOS Médecins joined the strike of liberal doctors on Tuesday February 14, “for fear of seeing this model disappear”. The organization is asking for a revaluation of the price of the home visit which could go up to three times the price of a classic consultation, i.e. 75 €.
Cities forced to limit home visits
Already, the evolution of requests has led SOS Médecins to restrict its home visits and to offer in-office consultations. “In some small or medium-sized towns, office consultations have even become the majority,” explains Jean-Christophe Masseron.
At the risk of depriving some patients of a home visit, even when necessary. This is what Maya, a 26-year-old woman from Nantes, experienced a year ago. “I had to take my car for a consultation at the office when I had a tear in my abs and I should not have driven. “This employee of a start-up, however, already had her habits with SOS Médecins: since her arrival in Nantes in 2015, she has never found a doctor, and “even the pharmacists (her) have advised SOS Médecins”, she testifies.
The new family physicians
SOS Médecins is also concerned about policies that tend to prolong home care for the elderly. “In Chambéry, visits to people over 75 dominate. I fear that in the coming years the service will be too saturated to allow them to stay at home thanks to our interventions, explains Jean-Christophe Masseron. Students who are far from their doctor or parents who come to us for their young children are the new profiles that we now see regularly. In some towns, the practitioners of SOS Médecins, who until now ensured follow-up “between the hospital and the treating general medicine”, are tending to become the new “family doctors”.
A consultation at 30 €, “not absurd”
Since the start of negotiations with health insurance in November, the unions of liberal doctors who are demanding an increase in the consultation fee have so far only obtained an increase of €1.50. While their surgeries were closed on Tuesday February 14, the Minister of Health François Braun declared on France Info that the increase in the price of the consultation to 30 € – claim of the main doctors’ unions – was “not absurd” for those who “commit themselves to meeting the needs of the population”.