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French GPs to extend strike action for another week

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French GPs to extend strike action for another week
A doctor's office in central France. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

Many general practitioners in France will keep their doors closed for another week, amid calls for better investment in community healthcare.

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Primary care doctors across France will strike again this week, even though the industrial movement was intended to end on January 2nd

The collective representing general practitioners - Doctors for Tomorrow - released a statement on their website calling on physicians to strike again from January 2nd through January 8th. 

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According to reporting by BFMTV, this industrial action could lead to about half of private practices across France being closed until Monday, January 9th.

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

The original call for strike action was launched on December 26th, and it was supported by several unions and collectives, such as the UFML (French Union for Free Medicine), the FMF (Federation of French Doctors), the SML (Union of Liberal Doctors) and the Young Doctors group. This round of walkouts followed previous strikes in early December, which impacted approximately 30 percent of general practitioner's offices across France.

Striking primary care doctors are calling for the field of general medicine to be made more attractive to young physicians, 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.

Although GPs are self-employed, the government sets the scale of fees that they can charge, including the basic €25 for a consultation.

As fewer people choose to become primary care physicians, striking GPs are hoping that pushing for an increase in consultation fees will help to make the field more appealing. 

The social movement which began just after Christmas was supposed to end on January 2nd, but Doctors for Tomorrow said in their statement that "the government has not bothered to pay attention to us" and therefore they encouraged physicians to keep striking for another week.

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Doctors for Tomorrow also announced a march on January 5th in Paris, which will walk from Place du Panthéon in the 5th arrondissement toward the Ministry of Health. 

François Braun, France's Minister of Health, criticised the industrial action, and told BFMTV that it was "ill-advised in this period of extreme difficulty for the health system," citing how hospitals have been overwhelmed amid the 'triple epidemic' (rising cases of bronchitis, Covid and flu).

READ MORE: Paxlovid and vaccines: The latest Covid advice from the French government

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