French doctors call for strike on Friday

Some doctor's offices in France may be closed on Friday, as 'généraliste' doctors plan to walk out in protest of a proposed law that they feel will make their field less attractive to new candidates.

French doctors call for strike on Friday
A patient at a doctor's appointment in France. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

Many primary care doctors/GPs in France plan to stage walkouts in response to a proposed bill aimed at combating medical deserts.

The bill is to be debated on Monday, June 12th. 

Brought forward by Frédéric Valletoux, of the centre-right Horizons Party, the bill would change the current medical system so that primary care doctors are required to take on-call hours. Currently, this is done on a voluntary basis – obligatory on-call hours for GPs was scrapped in the early 2000s after mobilisation against the requirement.

It would also make it so that entry level doctors would not be able to take on locum work, and strengthen the regulatory role of regional health agencies (ARS).

In response to the bill, “Doctors for Tomorrow” an association representing healthcare professionals and general practitioners referred to the contents of the bill as a “final blow to primary care medicine”.

Specifically, the association denounced the text for not taking into consideration “the real needs of healthcare professionals”. 

The French Union for Liberal Medicine, which also represents GPs, has joined in calls for strike action, adding, according to Le Parisien, that the bill could “permanently destabilise the general practitioner healthcare system, by causing a drop in GPs setting up their practices”.

Hospital doctors in France are not permitted to strike, but medecins généralistes are self-employed and therefore can strike.

For several months at the end of 2022 and start of 2023, GPs mobilised to increase government investment in making the field more attractive, which included pushback against making on-call hours mandatory. In December, walkouts by primary care physicians led saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

France currently has a shortage of GPs and it is estimated that about 30.2 percent of the French population lives in a medical desert – a geographical zone where healthcare providers and general practitioners are severely lacking compared to the rest of the country. 

For GPs, a large part of the problem has to do with the appeal of their field – particularly in regard to pay and the heavy administrative burden placed on them. 

In April, France’s ministry of health said they would increase the rates for medical appointments, but instead of raising consult fees by €5, as unions had pushed for, the increase announced was €1.50. 

In response, unions, such as the Confederation of French Medical Unions, called the rate increase ‘humiliating’, according to Le Parisien.

Member comments

  1. I’m surprised by how little French GPs can actually do. They write prescriptions or refer you to specialists. In the UK doctors have to be at a senior level before they can become GPs, hence the level of service they provide e.g. my UK GP taking a monthly delivery of nitrogen to ‘burn’ off minor skin problems. Here – at least in my area – getting a rendezvous with a dermatologist is almost impossible and has weeks/months waiting list.

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Why dental care could cost you more in France from October

You can expect higher dental costs in France from October 1st, unless you have private top-up health insurance. Here's why.

Why dental care could cost you more in France from October

If you are receiving dental care with a public sector, or conventionné, dentist in France, you are currently eligible to have up to 70 percent of fees reimbursed by the French social security system (Assurance maladie). To benefit from this, you will need to be registered in the system, which is best done by acquiring a carte vitale

READ MORE: Healthcare in France: The essential French vocabulary you’ll need if you’re ill

But from October 1st, only around 60 percent of these fees will be reimbursed by the Assurance maladie – a move that the government hopes will save €500 million each year to help a heavily indebted health system. 

If you have a mutuelle (private health insurance), then the rest of the cost (or a large portion of it) will likely be covered by them, although it’s always worth checking in advance.

If you don’t have a mutuelle, you will have to make up the rest of the cost yourself. According to the consumer association, Que Choisir, some 2.5 million French people do not have private health insurance.

Analysts believe that as a result of these reforms, the cost of mutuelles will increase further – with private insurers arguing that they will have greater overheads. The average price of a mutuelle has been projected to rise by 4.7 percent by the end of the year, in part as a result of inflation.

READ MORE: Medical appointments in France to increase in price

Which dentists are covered by social security? 

When booking a dental appointment in France, it is worth looking for dentists who are conventionné. If you are booking through the Doctolib website, which we would highly recommend, you can filter your search to only show dentists with this status. 

A dentist who is conventionné secteur 1 charges the standard tariffs set by the government – for example a simple consultation will cost €23, a hygienist appointment will cost €28.92 and the removal of an adult tooth will cost €33.44.

Currently, if you are covered by social security, 70 percent of these costs will be reimbursed, but this will soon fall to 60 percent. The rest of the costs will likely be covered by a mutuelle, if you have one. 

A dentist who is conventionné secteur 2 will charge slightly more for their services – this can vary from a few euros to hundreds on euros depending on the case. There are obliged to provide this information to you before you undergo treatment.

If you are registered with the French social security system, you will be reimbursed as if you have received treatment from a secteur 1 dentist. In other words, even if you pay more for a consultation with a secteur 2 dentist, the amount of money you will receive from Assurance maladie will be the same for if you had visited a secteur 1 dentist. A good mutuelle should be able to make up the rest of the costs. 

For private, or non-conventionné secteur 3 dentists, you will not be reimbursed through the French social security system. Only a very good mutuelle will cover the entire cost of these treatments.

READ MORE What you need to know about a mutuelle