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Unkept appointments: who are the healthcare professionals most affected by medical “bunnies”?

Haro on disrespectful patients! This weekend, in an interview with the regional press, the Prime Minister confirmed the upcoming implementation of a “rabbit tax”: the latter would penalize patients who do not attend a medical appointment, without notify the professional concerned.

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Unkept appointments: who are the healthcare professionals most affected by medical “bunnies”?

Haro on disrespectful patients! This weekend, in an interview with the regional press, the Prime Minister confirmed the upcoming implementation of a “rabbit tax”: the latter would penalize patients who do not attend a medical appointment, without notify the professional concerned. A way to empower individuals, while freeing up slots unnecessarily left aside, according to Gabriel Attal.

In reality, there is no official study, on a national scale, allowing this phenomenon to be quantified, confirms the statistical service of the Ministry of Health. However, unconsolidated data gives an idea of ​​the current situation. In January 2023, the Academy of Medicine and the National Council of the Order of Physicians jointly sounded the alarm “in the face of the serious consequences raised by unkept medical appointments”. According to these institutions, every week, 6 to 10% of patients skip their appointments and doctors lose “nearly 2 hours per week” because of these “rabbits”, leading, by extrapolation, to “nearly 27 million appointments -you not honored per year”. This same figure had been put forward a year earlier by the URPS private doctors-Île-de-France, which was based on a questionnaire carried out with white coats in the region. The Minister for Health, Agnès Firmin-Le Bodo, spoke of “28 million consultations” concerned, adding that “nothing is less certain”.

For its part, the Order of Physicians of the North estimated, last year, that lost slots “represent 7.6% of consultations, all specialties combined [...], all statuses combined [...] and all places combined. Only a tiny portion of these appointments are passed on to other patients. “Resolving the “rabbit” problem would have a major impact on the provision of care,” argued the departmental council. Same observation for the URPS liberal doctors-Grand Est, which noted, in a study from March 2022, that almost all professionals have appointments not kept, a quarter of which face “more than 5” abandonments every week.

Also readHow could the “Rabbit Tax” of 5 euros on missed medical appointments be applied?

However, not all professions are as affected by this phenomenon, analyzed the online appointment booking platform, Doctolib, in a survey published in February 2023. If, overall, “4.1% of appointments you are not honored”, this figure went down to 2.6% for masseurs-physiotherapists, and rose to 4.5% for specialists, or even 6.2% for dentists. In addition, general practitioners and pediatricians were more successful in reassigning missed appointments, unlike psychologists. These results must, however, be nuanced, as the platform only brings together some of the practitioners in France.

Other data broken down by specialties are rather rare. In its study, URPS-Médecins liberales Grand Est noted that appointments in ophthalmology, visceral surgery, radiology or ENT were more frequently abandoned by patients. But the survey was based on a limited number of respondents. General practitioners, for their part, noted, last February, that they were confronted with 2.5 “rabbits” per week, “with extremes between zero and 22” cases over the period.

If the figures vary according to the authors, the overall observation is shared. Enough to push the executive to toughen its tone, in order to “respond to the major concerns of the French: access to doctors, the ability to find an appointment within acceptable time frames”, in the words of Gabriel Attal.

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