VIVE LE FRENCH HEALTH SYSTEM
October 18, 2010 7 Comments
Spike Milligan (1918-2002) has an epitaph written in Gaelic on his tombstone which says “I told you I was ill”.
If you’re going to be ill the best place to do it is in France according to the World Health Organisation, who at their last ranking study (albeit in 2000) put the French Health system at #1 of 191 countries (Italy was 2nd, UK 18th, Australia 32nd, US 37th
At the same time, I am somewhat dismayed at the habit of over-prescription that does exist here.
In Australia if you have a cold, the doctor will tell you to have a hot cup of tea and whisky and go to bed for a few days.
In France you will be given a nasal spray, medication for the cough, tablets for the pain, something else for your chest and so on. I am sure that some people arrive at the pharmacy wearing hernia belts in anticipation of the heavy load to carry home.
I questioned my local doctor in our small village about this and he said that the reason is that doctors who don’t prescribe lots of medication are considered inadequate by their patients, and so they will then go and seek a different medical practitioner. We told him that we were from a different culture that believed that the less our doctor prescribed the healthier we must be, and he has adjusted our medication levels accordingly.
The rest of the health system, even if there are indications that it may be financially unsustainable, works with impressive precision. I have to say that it would be sad if the French health system went the same way as the English NHS, about which my English friends never stop complaining.
One aspect that I found interesting was that apart from my village GP, all the specialists were women. In both the lead-up to and the hospitalisation itself, the only male I encountered was the orderly who wheeled me into the operating theatre. I have to admit that I saw this as just being another positive element of the whole French health system.
By the way, it was not all free. I did have to pay €35 to have telephone, TV and internet access in my hospital room.