French specialists join GPs in 2nd week of strike

2014 12 29 11 53 13 104 Strike Signs 200

French general practitioners (GPs) in private practice have extended their strike for a second week, joined once again by their specialist colleagues in radiology, cardiology, and pediatrics, according to French news reports.

The doctors are demanding improved compensation for services, including a 25 euro consultation fee, and big changes in the proposed national healthcare law expected to take effect in 2015.

The proposed healthcare law threatens to nationalize the provision of private medical services, according to physician advocates, and must be completely overhauled to eliminate a transition to nationalized, hospital-centered care. One specific provision being challenged is the delegation of vaccination procedures to pharmacists.

The goal is to maintain trade union unity to preserve the healthcare system, noted Eric Henry, president of the private physicians' union, who joins those demanding that the draft health law be rewritten in its entirety.

The main physicians' union, MG France, called for its members to close their offices on 23 December, reports said. The call to strike was joined by the private physicians SML union, which is encouraging generalists and specialists alike to rally for the closure of medical offices through 6 January.

Finally, the emergency medical service SOS Doctors has joined the ranks by calling on its approximately 1,000 doctors to stop work beginning 29 December.

French Health Minister Marisol Touraine will meet with representatives of the GPs on 12 January. The ministry reports no unusual influx in emergency services, while union representatives and SOS Doctors characterize emergency services as having reached crisis levels.

According to reports that vary by region and the source of reporting, somewhere between 40% and 80% of medical offices are affected by the strike. Should the standoff continue, MG France President Dr. Claude Leicher warned that all means necessary will be used to affect policy, including a national demonstration in Paris.

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