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Jane, on navigating her way through the French Health Care System


French heathcare imageArticle by Jane Buckle

Jane shares her experience in our Fab after Fifty  ‘readers corner’.

When I lived in France I was taken ill and had to be seen by so many doctors and hospitals trying to find out what was wrong me that I lost count of them.

The doctors looked aghast when I told them about the NHS in England. I know that due to the economy cuts many hospitals are understaffed and stretched to their limits. It’s also happening to G.Ps. Sadly people all across England are being affected by the lack of health care they need.

I had two GP’s in France both of whom regarded me as rather eccentric. This was because I did not want to spend half an hour discussing the weather, my family and everything else. I just wanted to see the doctor tell them what is the problem was get, a prescription for whatever I needed and run.

Well, after I received my prescription I duly went to the chemist. I received so many various potions and lotions that my bathroom looked like a mini branch of Boots and I forgot what they were for. What amazed me was that all the local chemists are stocked with homeopathic pills and sprays however I never saw anyone buying them! In summer the chemists are full of tourists suffering from sunburn and an overload of drinks. I dreaded going past the chemist as I was often asked to come in and translate for them!

Places to go for x-rays

One of the greatest things about France is that there are the places to go to if you need a scan or an X-ray. You trot off to a place who specialise in these. They look at your results and write a full report. You then wait for an hour and are given copies of all procedures and a letter from the doctor in charge all ready for you to take the results to your G.P. All for free although I do have a mutuael (a health insurance) which meant that I could claim 100% for all medical care I received.

I had  bunions (very glam, not!) and my G.P decided that I must have surgery soon to remove them. She recommended a surgeon so I asked my friends and all of them said he was extremely good so I duly went to see him. He took one look at my feet and asked his secretary to book the operation as soon as possible. I left reeling at the extremely large cheque I had to pay.

His secretary was told I would be in hospital for three days and gave me a list of things I had to bring with me. I understood the night dress or pyjamas but I was asked to bring a table napkin. Was I going to get a spot of fine dining? The most bizarre item on the list was a thermometer, surely all hospitals a full of them.

However the nurses were fabulous and seemed to have all the time in the world to make sure I was comfortable before and after the operation. When I had to see the surgeon after the operation the surgeon gave me a copy of the x-ray of my toes to show at the airport in case the security machine went ping!

Would you rather be ill ‘in English’?

Dirk Bogarde wrote a book about his move to live in France which he loved. Then his manager was really unwell and asked to go back to London, saying he would rather be ill in English! In France some of the medical terms are rather tricky to understand, unless you have a medical dictionary of course.

I do think that the French health care is fabulous but I do agree with Dirk Bogarde’s manager I too would rather be ill in English!

If you have story you would like to share with Fab after Fifty readers, contact editor@fabafterfifty.com

Image Credit: Freedigitalphotos

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