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France's health system under pressure of increasing demands


The UK's health system is buckling under the weight of staff shortages and a lack of beds. In France, meanwhile, there are more doctors and many more nurses, yet its healthcare system is still in crisis.

President Emmanuel Macron has promised to change the way its hospitals are funded, and to free doctors from time-consuming administration, in a bid to break what he called a "sense of endless crisis" in its health service.

A series of eye-catching measures over the past few years - such as signing-up bonuses of €50,000 (£44,000) for GPs in under-served areas, and ending a cap on the number of medical students in France - have failed to plug healthcare gaps. 

Some hospitals are reporting up to 90% of their staff on "sick leave protest" at the conditions. And France's second-largest health union has called an "unlimited walkout" this week, following a fortnight of strikes by French GPs.

Guillaume Garot, a Socialist MP leading a cross-party bill to tackle the problem of medical deserts, said, "Eight million French people live in a medical desert, and six million don't have an attending doctor," he says. "It takes six months, on average, to find an appointment in my department of Mayenne; in Paris it takes two hours."

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Source: BBC News, 12 January 2023

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