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France's health system under pressure of increasing demands


The UK's health system is buckling under the weight of staff shortages and a lack of beds. In France, meanwhile, there are more doctors and many more nurses, yet its healthcare system is still in crisis.


President Emmanuel Macron has promised to change the way its hospitals are funded, and to free doctors from time-consuming administration, in a bid to break what he called a "sense of endless crisis" in its health service.


A series of eye-catching measures over the past few years - such as signing-up bonuses of €50,000 (£44,000) for GPs in under-served areas, and ending a cap on the number of medical students in France - have failed to plug healthcare gaps.


The pressure on both hospitals and GPs has continued to mount with a triple-whammy of winter illnesses, leading medical staff to nickname this month "Black January".


After years of Covid, and with inflation biting, many say chronic staff shortages and increasing demands are making their work impossible and threatening the French health system.


Some hospitals are reporting up to 90% of their staff on "sick leave protest" at the conditions.


And France's second-largest health union has called an "unlimited walkout" this week, following a fortnight of strikes by French GPs.

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