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French doctors strike against health reforms

Ben McPartland · 13 Mar 2015, 09:17

Published: 13 Mar 2015 09:17 GMT+01:00

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On Friday it was the turn of France's independent doctors (Médecin Libéraux) who held a strike aimed at putting more pressure on the government to ditch its reforms. The strike comes at a time when hospitals are being stretched to the limit.

“We have decided to toughen our stance,” said Eric Henry, spokesman of the “Movement for health for all”.

Henry lambasted the fact the government have been deaf to the concerns raised by health professionals over the reforms put forward by Health Minister Marisol Touraine.

The collective Movement for Health for All was created in February to bring health professionals together under one umbrella group under the slogan: “No to the health reform, united for future health”.

As well the independent doctors strike which will last until Monday, the collective has called on all health professionals, dentists, physiotherapists and nurses to close their surgeries on Saturday.

“The French government will have to make do with the hospital system. The strike will clog up emergency wards and show the government that without the doctors, the health system doesn’t work.

Health professionals are set to turn out in huge numbers on Sunday for a demonstration against the health reforms in Paris.

Family doctors held a long-running strike over Christmas, which was joined by specialist professionals as well as doctors working in hospital emergency wards.

SEE ALSO: French hospital crisis: 'Just like Thatcher's Britain'

After two weeks of industrial action in protest against planned government health reforms, family doctors (GPs) then turned up the heat by promising to create a bureaucratic mess for health authorities and insurance companies.

The planned reform that has provoked the ire of the family doctors is the change to the system of payment which will see an end to patients handing over cash up front for an appointment. Instead doctors will be reimbursed directly by insurance companies, whether public or private.

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Jean-Paul Ortiz from the Confederation of French Medical Unions (CSMF), the main union behind the protests, told The Local the change is “unacceptable” for those in his profession.

“Both doctors and patients in France will lose their liberty and independence. We will be dictated to by insurance companies and depend on them for our salaries," he said.

“We will be forced to spend hours checking all the reimbursements which are normally full of errors. Most doctors don’t have secretaries and we just don’t have the time to do it,” he said.


Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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