The voice of Frédéric Lebecq, 75, fills the entire modest waiting room of the general medicine cabinet at the Avesnes-sur-Helpe hospital (North). In the face of another patient or the doctors who stick their heads in the doorway, he chatters with a spirit that struggles to conceal a daily “not easy every day”. His son, another Frédéric, aged 52 and severely disabled, has not had a doctor for two years. His filed for bankruptcy at the same time, according to him “for fear of Covid-19”.
Frédéric Lebecq (father) needs a treatment to be repeated every three months and Frédéric Lebecq (son) cannot travel for his care. So after months of “manage”, the opening of the practice at Avesnes hospital in May 2022 was beneficial to them. Reserved as a priority for patients without referring doctors, consultations are provided there every afternoon of the week by a rotation of six doctors. Four retired liberals – Christian Castel, 73, Xavier Pantou, 69, Bénédicte Moreau, 67, and Didier Fontaneau, 72 – are behind the project, supported by the director of the Avesnes hospital, Serge Gunst, and by the community of communes of the Heart of Avesnois.
These GPs had recently closed their practices, “overwhelmed, exhausted, tired” by the liberal. However, they volunteered to participate in the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 as soon as it opened – after “fifteen days of retirement”, jokes Xavier Pantou. Their “first resort office” is based on the same organization.
Doctors are considered as part-time employees, hospital employees and work once a week. They take care neither of the logistics nor of the administration: a ” happiness “, recognizes Christian Castel, also elected to the municipal council of Avesnes and vice-president for the health of the community of communes. Since its opening, ten months ago, the practice has honored more than 2,600 appointments for 2,049 patients and the president of the community of municipalities, Nicolas Dosen, does not hide his “proud to bring liberals into the public”.
Unofficial attending physicians
Since Bénédicte Moreau retired in March 2021, she estimates that less than ” half of [sa] patient found » a referring doctor. Of the 43 municipalities that make up the Heart of Avesnois, 33 general practitioners are installed for 30,000 inhabitants. Or 1.1 general practitioner per 1,000 inhabitants, when the national average was 1.48 in 2022.
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