Monday, July 24, 2006

French Surgeons Strike in the Midst of Heat Wave


Six months ago, the Union of Surgeons of France set a timetable for a strike deemed necessary for the survival of the profession in France. In a situation similar to what American doctors face, French surgeons are seeking an increase in the amount they can charge as well as a limit to the rise in insurance premiums charged to them. The union claims that the government is not acting in accord with agreements reached in 2004 on these issues.

While the percentage of members of the union that took part in the strike is unclear, the strike has grown to encompass other specialties, such as obstetrics and gynecology. Complicating matters is a heat wave that is sweeping the country, which is bringing back memories of 2003, when a heat wave let to crowded emergency rooms and left 15,000 residents dead. Thus far, 22 residents have died from heat-related situations.

Xavier Bertand, the French Health Minister, has urged to doctors to return to their practices, especially due to the present heat wave. Patrick Pelloux, president of an association of emergency room doctors, questioned the doctors’ strategy. “There comes a point when, faced with the risks of a heat wave, there is an honorable side to carrying out
one’s mission.”

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