Doctors surgeries close in France as GPs stage new strike

General practitioners in France staged another strike on Tuesday that led to doctors surgeries closing as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

Doctors surgeries close in France as GPs stage new strike

GP doctors in France walked out again on Tuesday, just a few weeks ahead of a key deadline in which France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

A protest march was also due to take place from the Ministry of health to the French Senate in Paris.

Le Figaro reported that Tuesday’s strike action could be larger than previous mobilisations by general practitioners, and that this time SOS Médecins doctors will also walk out, as they call for the rates for home consultations to be upgraded.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

Previously, general practitioners staged walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

New concerns among GPs

Doctors are concerned about the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more “medical deserts” – parts of the country without GPs – and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card. The remainder, or part of it, is reimbursed via mutuelle insurance schemes.

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Uber Eats and meal delivery drivers in France to strike this weekend

Delivery workers with platforms like Uber Eats will strike in France this weekend, in protest at pay losses from the implementation of a new algorithm.

Uber Eats and meal delivery drivers in France to strike this weekend

Unions representing meal delivery workers with the platforms Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Stuart in France have called for a national strike action during the weekend of December 2nd and 3rd.

Workers were called to walk out in protest over a new algorithm implemented at the start of November by Uber Eats that has caused “a drastic drop in pay” for delivery workers, according to a joint statement CGT and Union-Indépendants.

Union Indépendants claimed that some workers could see pay decreases of 10 to 40 percent due to the change in the system.

Several demonstrations are also planned across France on Saturday, including one in Paris at the Place Stalingrad at noon.

In response, Uber Eats defended the plan telling AFP on Monday that the new system “may cause certain runs to vary in price either upwards or downwards, but it is not intended to reduce the average pay per run”.

The company added that the change has been piloted in three French cities – Avignon, Lille and Rouen – and the “average price per run remained stable and there were pay increases of 1.4 percent”.

As of 2023, Uber Eats had 65,000 independent delivery workers in France, according to 20 Minutes.

Rights for gig economy workers

Previously, multi-national platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo based their business modelling on saying that all their staff were ‘self-employed’ workers, however a series of court cases in France concluded that the staff are actually employees – making them entitled to benefits such as sick pay, and holiday pay.

In May 2022, Uber Eats and other meal delivery workers elected for the first time their union representation, and in April 2023, unions were able to secure three deals with management, including the long-sought institution of a minimum hourly wage, which was set to €11.75.

Outside of France, the EU is currently debating a directive that would make ride-sharing and meal delivery companies provide greater social protections for the workers using their platforms.