French surgeons call off 'exile' strike in UK

24th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 24 (AFP) - Some 2,000 French private practice surgeons who had threatened to go into "exile" next week in Britain in protest at low pay and soaring insurance rates on Tuesday called off their strike.

PARIS, Aug 24 (AFP) - Some 2,000 French private practice surgeons who had threatened to go into "exile" next week in Britain in protest at low pay and soaring insurance rates on Tuesday called off their strike.

"After long negotiations with the health minister, the leaders of Surgeons of France welcome the willingness and determination of Philippe Douste-Blazy to save the surgical profession in France," the group said in a statement.

The surgeons had threatened to down scalpels and go to Britain for a week from August 31 in protest at low pay and sky rocketing insurance premiums.

They say their fees have not gone up in 15 years, while their insurance payments have increased tenfold - a rise they say is not justified by the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed.

The high costs have driven young French doctors away from the profession, sparking fears of a future shortfall.

The surgeons were planning a symbolic "exile" in Britain, as such a protest would shield them from a French law requiring them to report to work if requested.

Late last month, Douste-Blazy presented an emergency rescue plan in a bid to keep surgeons on the job that called on insurance companies to freeze premiums for the next three years and urged a reconfiguration of the surgical fee scale.

It also provided for the creation of two crisis cells tasked with assessing the need to renovate operating rooms and improving training programs for up-and-coming surgeons.

The Surgeons of France had rejected the initial plan but, after three weeks of difficult talks with the ministry, the group said it "believes it has received enough guarantees" to call off the strike movement.

Two other surgeons' groups that had backed the Britain "exile" movement on Monday called on their members to stay on the job.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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