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French doctors launch week-long strike to demand fee hike, better conditions

French doctors strike over pay.

Doctors in France have staged a week-long strike to demand an increase in the consultation fee and better working conditions, paralyzing the healthcare delivery system across the country. 

General practitioners and doctors of other specialties began the strike on Monday, which will continue till January 2, according to French media reports.

The nationwide strike, organized by the collective Doctors for Tomorrow (Medecins pour demain), as well as trade unions SML (Syndicat des Medecins Liberaux), FMF (Federation des Medecins de France) and UFMLS (Union Francaise pour une Medecine Libre), will last one week.

Medical practitioners are calling on their colleagues to close offices and demand an increase in patient admission fees from 25 euros ($27) to 50 euros, as well as better working conditions, a report in BFMTV said. 

Doctors for Tomorrow (Medecins pour demain) was formed in September 2022 and aimed at drawing attention to the shortage of doctors in the country and the difficult working conditions they face.

Doctors in France complain about overcrowded hospitals amid epidemics of influenza, coronavirus and bronchiolitis in the country, the report stated.

A similar walkout took place earlier this month. Doctors are also planning a large nationwide walkout on January 5.

"There are epidemics, but there are also chronic patients. Today we no longer have the capacity to manage our patients, whether they are newborns or the elderly. We have whole waiting lists for consultations," general practitioner Florence Lapica told the broadcaster.

The French healthcare system is facing an unprecedented crisis. Last summer, medical workers staged a nationwide strike, demanding higher wages and denouncing the healthcare policies adopted by the government. 

The fight with the government for better wages comes as France has been grappling with rising inflation amid worsening economic conditions. 

Similar strikes have also hit other European countries, including the United Kingdom, in recent months amid a cost-of-living crisis.

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