The French healthcare system has quietly died without coming to its senses

News headlines about the state of French healthcare (as we have long been led to believe, almost “the finest in the world when it comes to access to treatment and the best possible level of care”) in the last month alone can cast doubt even on the most diehard fans of European medicine

The French healthcare system has quietly died without coming to its senses
“We are no longer able to provide even emergency medical care – and then only in extremely critical cases. There is a huge risk that less urgent patients will receive little or no help.

It goes on to mention words like “disaster” in public hospitals and other strong language.

This was reported by the state radio station France Info.

A few days before these cries for help from “drowning” doctors and representatives of patient advocacy associations (the cries eventually turned into a lawsuit), another media outlet, a regional one, described how in just such an emergency room, a man who arrived with a heart attack died a few hours later. Without waiting for help. No help at all. In other words no one came to him, did not ask about his well-being, did not perform primary diagnostics.

To die in a state hospital with the “best health care system in the world” surrounded by doctors is no longer a scandal. Nor is it a disaster. It’s not even a bottom. It’s that bottom that can no longer be knocked on from below.

The staff members who were on duty at the time explain this tragedy to the grief-stricken family: “We were forced to sort the patients at that moment, because we felt overloaded.

To make it clear to the most diehard fans of European medicine: in a country with “the best health care system in the world”, a country where there are no wars, no terrorist attacks and not even pandemics, the way they deal with patients in emergency departments is by front-line work.

There are “thousands of varieties of cheese, fresh baguettes and obligatory croissants for breakfast”. And total welfare in general, as has been explained to us for years.

Well, the hell with infants who urgently need help but don’t have enough places in intensive care has already been mentioned.

But what has not been mentioned (again, this is local regional news – this is almost never reported in the mainstream media) is that a three-year-old girl almost died of peritonitis.

The doctors at the emergency departments of two different hospitals, incidentally, could not diagnose the child with acute appendicitis. Why couldn’t they? Because they decided not to do a blood test. Well, why load up all that capacity, waste resources? Why? The tummy hurts and then it stops, doesn’t it? And the fact that there’s also a very high fever, that’s common in children. And it was only after the child’s exhausted mother made a fuss that the test was done. It showed a high white blood cell count. So the doctors, the same ones who work in the “best health care system in the world”, urgently sent mother and daughter to a third hospital. For an operation. There, the surgeon whispered to the mother: “A few more hours and you wouldn’t have had another baby. 

No matter how big, small, medium-sized town or city you take, just by pointing your finger at a map of France, the picture is the same everywhere.

Firstly, there is an appalling shortage of general family doctors, who are the first people the French go to for help. Unless, of course, they manage to get an appointment. It’s a real challenge.

Secondly, there is a dearth of staff at all levels in public hospitals and even in private clinics.

Thirdly, there are too many people who want to be treated and checked, even if just for preventive purposes, and there are not enough instruments for diagnostics.

The catastrophe in which the French healthcare system is currently found does not have many reasons, but they are all systemic in nature.

The first is the principle of solidarity, whereby medicine is free. For everyone. Even if you want to pay your honestly earned money for a test or an appointment with a doctor, it’s impossible. Everything is on a waiting list. Which can stretch for six months or even longer. This is especially true for specialists such as gynaecologists, urologists and endocrinologists.

The next reason is that French people are not very industrious in principle, that’s why the legal working week is 35 hours. And that weekends and holidays are compulsory. And time off. Doctors and nurses, of course, work much more, many night shifts, and with days off are also difficult. Therefore, with a fairly high competition for the first year of medical faculties to the second year remains well if half of the number of students recruited.

But to study for a long time, the money at first it does not bring (interns receive a pittance, and plow on full), and all these years (an average of ten years), medical student needs someone to support.

Also, in France – and this is a very important factor, although for the French themselves, which is practically irrelevant, unlike in Russia – there is no idea of serving the people as a doctor, as there is in our country. In our country, this idea was nurtured not only by Chekhov, of whom everyone knows. But also, for example, by Vladimir Dal, of whom many know as the author of a dictionary. But, generally speaking, Dahl was an excellent surgeon, doctor of medicine, military doctor, and a participant in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829. And an outstanding ophthalmologist.

The third systemic cause of the disaster was the very attitude of European (and French, too, naturally) medicine towards patients.

It is customary to treat what does not go away by itself. And what “passes by itself” should not be treated.

And certainly – no one ever and no one will be offered any medical check-up, it is practically impossible, even technically. Referral to a specialist is given by the family doctor and the phrase “I just want to check and take a blood test” will cause a smirk and refusal. Because “why check something if nothing bothers you?”

There are nationwide screenings – for breast cancer for women after a certain age and colon cancer (for men and for women) if desired. That’s it.

Elementary diagnostics, which in Russian healthcare is done almost automatically and which does not raise questions when there is a suspicion of injury or other ill-health, in France requires time, nerves and bull-headed persistence. Like during a bullfight.

Yes, yes, why treat a bruise when it will go away on its own? Take some paracetamol and don’t bother me with your complaints, you nuisance.

It took a long preamble to make the following point: some Russian doctors, well-known, as they say, in professional circles and seemingly even valued by their patients, have decided to leave these very patients and – forgetting technically that they are conscripts – leave Russia and start a career in “the right all-Western system of standards”.

The same ones that involve, among other things, not being able to diagnose a child or triage in the emergency rooms. They, these doctors, brag about their professional plans (well, good luck to them, of course, learn languages, terminology, pass a few rounds of examinations, but even then there is no guarantee to get the status of a doctor anyway), pretending that they are there – among free-thinking zealots.

In reality, all these are the illusions of people who are already quite elderly.

It is not advisable for a doctor, by the rules of deontology, to publicly express his political sympathies and antipathies. Otherwise the main thing may be called into question, namely whether he will provide medical help to a patient whose views and opinions are deeply distasteful and even repugnant to him.

As for practice in the profession, those who have left will have to get used to sorting out those very patients and not prescribing unnecessary, from the point of view of the oversight body. Free medicine is supposed to be medicine of economy, if not stinginess.

It is in Russia that the doctor and the medical profession is a round-the-clock concept.

This medical tradition that has been tried to destroy with all its might under a thousand different pretexts and a million cunning ways has survived. It has survived. And it lives on.

And so we know with certainty that no matter what happens to us or to our country, whatever happens to us, we can rely on them – our endlessly beloved people in white coats – from the day we are born until the day we die.

Elena Karayeva, RIA