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CRIME

French hospital cancels operations after cyberattack

A hospital complex in Versailles, near Paris, had to cancel operations and transfer some patients after being hit by a cyberattack over the weekend, France's health ministry said.

French hospital cancels operations after cyberattack
Illustration photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP

The Hospital Centre of Versailles – which consists of Andre-Mignot Hospital, Richaud Hospital and the Despagne Retirement Home – was affected by the hacking attempt, said the complex’s management.

The regional health agency (ARS) said the Andre-Mignot Hospital had cancelled operations, but was doing everything possible to keep walk-in services and consultations running.

Six patients had been transferred since Saturday evening – three from intensive care and three from the neonatal unit – said Health Minister Francois Braun, as he visited the hospital on Sunday evening. Others might follow, he added.

The cyberattack had led to a “total reorganisation of the hospital”, the minister added.

While the machines were still functioning in the intensive care unit, more people were needed to watch the screens as they were no longer working as part of a network, Braun said.

The Paris prosecutors’ office has opened a preliminary investigation into attempted extortion, as well as the access and maintenance of the state’s digital system. The hospital had also filed a formal complaint on Sunday.

For several months now, hospitals and health systems in France have been targeted with such cyberattacks.

According to Braun, “the health system suffers daily attacks” in France, but the “vast majority of these attempts are prevented”.

In August, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital on the outskirts of Paris – which provides healthcare for nearly 700,000 residents – was targeted.

Its operations were severely disrupted for several weeks before returning to normal in mid-October.

On that occasion, the attack was followed by a demand for $10 million, subsequently lowered to one or two million.

The hackers had set a September 23rd deadline for the hospital to pay the ransom, after which they posted confidential data on patients and staff to the “dark web”.

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STRIKES

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.

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