Primary health care: proximity does not always mean accessibility
Nearly all French people live less than 15 minutes from a general practitioner, a nurse, and a physical therapist. However, patients do not always go to the nearest healthcare professional for primary care. This pattern is especially visible for “direct access” specialists, i.e., gynaecologists and ophthalmologists, who do not require referrals from GPs. The use of a new accessibility indicator gives a better picture of local disparities in healthcare access. The criteria range beyond the physical distance from healthcare professionals and include local tensions between healthcare supply and demand. The choice of a locality other than the nearest one to obtain healthcare is often linked to its size or closeness to the patient's place of work.