More foreign doctors fill gaps in French care

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Ann Törnkvist - [email protected]
More foreign doctors fill gaps in French care
Numbers of foreign doctors in France have risen sharply, doubling in certain regions in the last five years. File photo: Hang In There/Flickr

The number of doctors with foreign diplomas in France has shot up by 43 percent since 2008, it emerged on Wednesday. Many are specialists who are plugging holes in the nation's health care system, according to the French Medical Board.


At the start of January, there were almost 18,000 doctors working in France with a medical degree completed outside the country.

The French Medical Board (Le Conseil de l'Ordre de Medecins - CNOM) revealed on Monday that the foreign-educated doctors account for nine percent of the profession. 

"If there have never before been as many registered doctors in France, it's due to the number of retired doctors still working and the influx of European and non-European doctors," the board noted in a statement.

The numbers of doctors with a non-French medical degree has swelled by 43 percent in a five-year period, with the surge most notable in the Auvergne region in central France, which employed almost double as many doctors with foreign diplomas in 2013 compared to 2008.

The BMF business newspaper reported that many hospitals across France resort to employing foreign-educated doctors to plug holes in certain specialities, including radiology and anesthesia. 

CNOM said it predicted that the current number of doctors educated abroad will continue to increase by about 34 percent in the coming five years. Among the foreign doctors registered with CNOM, more than one in five was Algerian, while Romanians and Belgians made up 17.7 and 8.9 percent, respectively.

The medical board underscored, however, that the new statistics did not include doctors who had not registered with CNOM, a group that probably represented "a significant number," according to CNOM spokesman Patrick Romestaing.

The review also showed that French health care was increasingly reliant on locum doctors, as their numbers increased by 5.2 percent in the past five-year period. However, 68 percent of doctors who were registered with the board in 2008 as substitute replacements had since taken permanent employment.


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