A strike has hit the French hospital and private clinics system after an alliance between surgeons and interns brought 70 percent of private hospitals and many in the public sector to a standstill, until further notice.
The open-ended stoppage is because of government reforms capping fees doctors can ask for in the private sector, and a protest by interns, doctors still in training, at their long hours for poor pay.
“If we don’t raise basic rates for treatments, or if we limit surcharges for specialities, then patients will be shortchanged with out-of-date medicine and surgery,” says trainee surgeon Valérie Matter-Parrat.
“Working conditions for trainee doctors are disasterous at the moment. They work between 70 and 100 hours a week for a very small salary, and 1 in 5 are not allowed their safety rest periods,” says union member Etienne Pot.
Anyone requiring surgery is having their appointments rescheduled, or being sent to state hospitals. The health minister is defending her cost-cutting policy.
“For 10, 15, 20 years we’ve done nothing to resolve this problem. I’m not going to fix things in a matter of weeks or months,” says Marisol Touraine.
Emergency services are unaffected, but if the strike drags on it will cause considerable disruption and a backlog that will add pressure to a already-straining system.