French medical testing centres on strike over budget concerns

The Local France
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French medical testing centres on strike over budget concerns
A researcher in a French laboratory (Photo by JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP)

Many medical test centres across France will be closed for one week as workers walk out.


Many medical testing centres - also known as medical "laboratories" - across France have been on strike since Monday

The strike is set to last one week - until Sunday, January 15th, as workers protest the government's decision to reduce their budget in the 2023 social security financing bill (PFLSS).

Lionel Barrand, the president of the national union Les biologistes médicaux - Les Biomed, told Franceinfo that lab workers do not want to "take the French hostage" and that they are awake that the health system is heading into a "black January" amid the triple epidemic of influenza, bronchitis and Covid-19.


"If nothing changes and they continue to cut our budget, we are heading for dark years for local medicine."

France's Health Minister François Braun made his opposition to the strikes known during an interview with France 2, where he said that the test centres have "made unprecedented profits" in recent years.

"Three billion euros in 2021 from the health insurance system and the French people! This strike is irresponsible," the health minister said.

What the closures mean for patients

Some parts of the country will have either the vast majority - or all - of its medical testing centres closed due to strike action. In Alsace, 100 percent of labs will remain closed during the strike, according to Franceinfo. To the west, in Normandy, the majority of testing centres have closed their doors as well.

As a result, patients across France will have to wait a few days to get a blood test, as only "urgent" analyses will be carried out during the strike.

This marks the second time medical testing centre workers have gone on strike to protest budget cuts in recent months - lab workers also walked out in November, which saw nearly 3,900 of the 4,100 laboratories across France affected.

Barrand told Franceinfo that lab workers will "continue to work for emergencies," and that they are "still doing everything that concerns chemotherapy tests, pre-operative tests, dialysis tests or insemination monitoring."

In short, all analyses that cannot be postponed will still be provided. Barrand added that "it is the doctors who say whether an analysis is urgent or not. Our counters remain closed, but we accept samples from outside. If a nurse comes to the reception for an emergency, we won't keep the door closed."

Patients who need "routine" testing will have to wait until the strike is over.

As for Covid PCR tests, most labs will only carry out tests needed before surgical operations that cannot be postponed - but if you are in need of a Covid test, most French pharmacies administer antigen tests and sell at-home test kits.


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Anonymous 2023/01/11 13:02
PCR test for operations still to be carried out - not the case for me, mine has been cancelled this week.
Anonymous 2023/01/10 18:22
My PCR test for an operation booked for Saturday 14th was cancelled by the lab. No details given as how the test could still be carried out.

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