Hospitals on the brink of chaos as French doctors extend strike

AFP - JULIEN DE ROSA

Several major French hospitals have reported a difficult weekend, with emergency units struggling to cope with the huge number of patients visiting accident services because of the on-going strike by many local GPs. That week-long strike has now been extended to 8 January with a protest march set for Thursday.

General practitioners who are members of the professional representative body, "Médecins pour Demain" (Doctors for Tomorrow), have been on strike since 26 December for an increase in their fees.

That strike has been extended for a further week.

The doctors are demanding a doubling of their consultation fees, from the current 25 euros to 50 euros. They also want an improvement in their working conditions, notably by being paid enough to enable them to employ administrative assistants.

The work stoppage is supported by several major trade bodies, including the Federation of Independent Doctors, the Union of Doctors, and Young Doctors.

The union of French General Practitioners has refused to support the strike, while admitting that improvements in working conditions are necessary to encourage more young doctors to take up general practice.

March in Paris on Thursday

The strike is being prolonged "because the government has not bothered to listen to our claims," according to a statement from the striking group.

The Health Minister François Braun has criticised the timing of the action, saying that the strike was particularly unwelcome while the country faces the triple threat posed by seasonal flu, the Covid epidemic and the respiratory infection bronchiolitis.


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