Why GPs in France are threatening to strike in December

Thousands of independent general practitioners (liberal general practitioners) across France are threatening to strike and close their practices on December 1 and 2 to protest the shortage of doctors, increased time constraints and what they call a “general lack of resources”.

A statement from the union Confederation of French Medical Unions (CSMF) reads: “No health without doctors, no doctors without resources.”

Dr Luc Duquesnel, president of the CSMF GP section, and a general practitioner in Mayenne with more than 30 years of experience, told Capital that the “movement will be massive”, although no official figures have been published on the number of GPs considering joining The Strike. It is believed that in some areas all GP surgeries could be closed on strike days.

If your medical practice is concerned and in an emergency, you are advised to call 15, where you will be directed to alternatives.

The idea for the strike grew out of the creation of a Facebook group called Doctors for Tomorrow, which now has nearly 14,000 members.

GP requests

Requests from GPs include:

  • A payment of €30 per consultation, instead of the €25 paid today

  • A payment of €60 for the elderly or those suffering from a long-term illness

  • More doctors and resources to avoid time constraints and too many patients per doctor

  • Better recognition of the increasing number of chronic diseases due to the aging of the population, which take longer to assess and treat

  • Combined retirement and employment allowances and an old-age allowance (supplementary old age (ASV) calculated with inflation

Dr Duquesnel said: “When I started in 1988 I was doing six appointments an hour. Now I am late even when I have three consultations per hour.

He said his ability to see patients had halved due to the complexity of patient cases, including those with asthma, diabetes or other chronic conditions “often at the same time”, a- he declared.

Doctors and nurses

Doctors are also protesting against proposed government plans to transfer some responsibilities to other healthcare professionals.

For example, the social security finance bill (social security financing bill (PLFSS)) for 2023, plans to give senior nurses (advanced practice nurses (IPA)) the ability to offer prescriptions for ongoing problems.

Doctors say they fear this will lead to a decline in the quality of care.

Dr. Duquesnel instead calls for better coordination of doctors and nurses and takes the example of his own medical practice.

He said: ‘We no longer have a doctor working alone. We have a salaried APN who cares for 600 patients and that’s great. I have 170 chronically ill but stable patients under his care, but we discuss their cases five to six times a day.

The GP also sees these patients when they make appointments for issues that are unrelated to their chronic conditions. For example, even if an asthmatic who usually receives care from the IPA makes an appointment for gastroenteritis, the GP (not the IPA) will see him.

The doctor is also skeptical of government plans to offer “direct access” to speech therapists and physiotherapists. He called the proposal a “prestige solution” and said the waiting times for an appointment with these professionals were already too long.

He said: “In my area, it takes six months to get an appointment with a speech therapist. We have almost no physiotherapists. This is true even for people who have suffered serious illnesses such as stroke, he said.

It comes as some GPs have also participated in strikes by medical students against the proposed fourth-year placements during medical training.

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