Background: For several years now, the socio-political context in France has widened the territorial divide between metropolitan France and peripheral France. Access to healthcare is part of this divide, which harms small and medium-sized towns as well as rural fringes. This article focuses on these geographic dynamics in access to healthcare, with a focus on self-employed general practitioners (GPs), who are essential links in the care pathway as referring physicians.
Methods: This paper uses data from French public statistics from 2007 to 2017 to build spatial panels and to highlight the territorial factors that explain the dynamics of the locations of GPs.
Results: Over the period under review, the density of GPs has decreased and territorial disparity has increased. There is no trend towards a worsening of this isolation of either the periphery or deprived cantons with regard to the density of GPs in these areas. However, we note a clear trend towards the grouping together of different types of care within cantons, leading to a tendency towards the polarization of the healthcare supply in the territories of mainland France, which implies another type of geographical difficulty.
Conclusion: The increase in territorial disparities in accessibility to GPs does not really seem to correspond to the classical divides in France, but rather raises the issue of intra-metropolis and intra-periphery disparities.
Keywords: Access to healthcare; France; Location factors; Medical demography; Territorial inequalities.
© 2022 The Author.