The problems of persuading doctors to take up posts in small outposts of rural France is well known, but one town in Brittany has come up with an alternative solution.
The town of La Roche-Derrien, in the north of Brittany, has already been hit by the departure of one médicin and with another set to retire village officials have been desperately trying to recruit replacements.
On Saturday the surgery in the village had to be closed because the one on-call doctor simply couldn’t cope with the number of sick patients.
After their job ads went unanswered for months, and with time running out, they were forced to turn to the only person who put their name forward for the role – a druid healer.
Despite Brittany’s strong Celtic-Druid heritage, for some in the village the thought of a druid healer operating out of the doctor’s surgery has been a bitter magic potion to swallow.
A sign at the Town Hall, announcing the opening of the druid's surgery, was defaced.
While there may be some disbelievers in the village, Rojer Pierre, who runs the village bar, appropriately called The Grail (Le Graal), told The Local most people were open minded.
“At first they thought it was a joke,” he said. “But the people are curious and they are interested in learning about what he can do.
“People will go and see him and speak to him. This appears to be the best option for now, because he was the only one who responded to the advert.”
The surgery serves around 5,000 habitants in the village and five neighbouring communes.
Maryvonne Broudic, the deputy mayor of neighbouring commune Langoat, told The Local that the healer will be able to help locals with issues like anxiety and sleeping problems, but won't be offering any medical treatment.
“He's an alternative healer. Due to the enormous difficulty we had recruiting a doctor for this position, we just thought 'OK let's see'.”
Unfortunately consultations with the druid healer will not be reimbursed by France's social security system.
She insisted however the search for a real qualified doctor will go on.
Jean Louis Evan, the mayor of La Roche-Derrien told Ouest-France news site: “The healer will not be directly replacing a doctor but will add complementary care for disorders of the body and mind, thanks to natural forces,”
“I understand the locals might be against it, but isn’t Brittany the land of the druids?” he said.
If the appointment works out, then the French government may be persuaded to turn to druids to deal with the ever growing problem of “medical deserts” in la France profonde.