Many doctors’ offices across France closed Thursday amid calls for immediate reform and an increase in the cost of a basic consultation from 25 to 50 euros.
All of France’s doctors’ unions have come together for a historic strike on 1st and 2nd December, causing widespread closures throughout the country. Laboratories too have shut up shop, the second time in less than a month.
Doctors say they are over-worked, under-staffed and buckling beneath the pressures of the job, with one group, Médécins pour Demain, claiming the suicide rate in the profession is three times higher than that of the general population. Meanwhile the Fédération des Médecins de France (FMF), one of the largest unions in the country, has declared itself as a supporter of “Demonstration before Desertification”.
Unions have been battling against France’s 2023 social security budget for two months now, which includes a €250 million reduction in resources, from cutting routine examinations to scaling back laboratory testing. Doctors are also asking for a review of the administrative processes – and ultimately a reform of the “excessive” paperwork doctors must complete” – and the price of basic consultations. Set at €25 in 2015, those in the profession believe €50 is a more appropriate amount, and will help bring the French system up to par with other neighbouring European countries.
“The profession is tired, worn out by three years of Covid [and] disillusioned by the lack of recognition towards it,” said the FMF in a recent statement. “Doctors in the field are demanding better working conditions.”
The CGT Santé is also backing the strikes, calling for an increase in salaries across the board, but notably for those at the lower end of the pay scale. The union is requesting employees currently earning the SMIC be better “recognised for their qualifications” and see their pay rise to €2,000.
Photo credit: Philippe Pougetoux for CGT Santé 06