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France

Don't get sick at Christmas, there'll be no one to treat you

An Accident & Emergency doctor wears a bandage reading "on strike"
An Accident & Emergency doctor wears a bandage reading "on strike" AFP/Archives

Accident & Emergeny staff in France are set to walk out on Monday over pay, whilst frantic negotiations continue between health officials and organizers to ward off crippling strike action.

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Casualty units say they are buckling under the strain of gruelling work hours in the relative indifference of health authorities.

They want their work hours cut back to 48 hours per week, instead of the 60 plus they fulfill currently.

Up to 80% of staff are expected to lay down their stethoscopes on Monday, according to France's main medical union "Association des médecins urgentistes de France."

And from Tuesday, GPs could join the fray and close their cabinets as well.

But for patients the real chaos won't begin until Wednesday, when the country's powerful conglomerate of several unions, joins the contestation. And they won't be calling for just one day of strike  action, but an entire week, finishing on New Year's Eve.

At the heart of their wrath, is a new bill by the French Health Ministry allowing pharmacists to vaccinate patients, potentially stealing work away from doctors. The bill, initially scheduled for debate in parliament in January, has been postponed to Spring.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine assured on Sunday, that all precautions would be made to allow patients to be treated during the holidays.

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