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(en) French Doctors And Nurses On Nationwide Strike To Protest Shortages

From DAMN <damn@tao.ca>
Date Tue, 1 Feb 2000 08:19:11 -0500

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Thousands of French doctors and nurses staged a nationwide strike on Friday
to protest tough working conditions in what they say is an under-funded,
overworked public health system.

In Paris, thousands of hospital staff, many dressed in their work clothes,
marched through the city, in a rare display of unity among all sectors of
hospital staff.

The strike was backed by nearly all France's hospital unions to urge the
Socialist-led government to pour more money and staff into the country's

In the port city of Marseille in southern France, some 2,000 hospital staff
took to the streets. Demonstrations also took place in other major cities.

The situation is particularly severe in the emergency services.

Doctor Philippe Michel, head of emergency services at the La Conception
hospital in Marseille, told The Associated Press that his department had to
make eight elderly people wait six hours on stretchers this month due to a
lack of beds.

``The long waiting periods are due to the fact that the staff cannot do
everything, especially when it is busy. Time is the Ayatollah of the
emergency services,'' Michel said.

Also on Friday, in the southern region of Gironde, 200 elected officials
resigned in protest at the lack of resources of a regional hospital at

The hospital's maternity ward was closed four years ago. This year, the
operating theater's opening hours were reduced from 24 per day to 8.

For several years, French medical professionals have protested the
government's attempts to curb soaring health care costs, urging the
government not to put money before health.

In 1997, France spent 9.6 percent of its gross domestic product on health
care, according to the OECD. The European Union average was 8 percent.
Figures for 1998 are not yet available.

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