A British perspective on using the French Health Service

Update from Care Opinion

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The daily task of applying our moderation policy to patient stories here at PO is challenging and fascinating in equal measure. Sometimes it's also frustrating. You get something beautifully written, coherently argued and yet it falls outside our remit so we are unable to publish it as a story. Today we heard from a patient who was sharing his long term experience of using the health service in France. He also argued that a hybrid low cost insurance and state funded system could work well in England. Thankfully PO blogging allows us to go more off piste and so we can share his words with you. 

After 10 years of living in France during which time, very unfortunately I had to make quite extensive use of their health services, I thought I would write to tell you how, in the main, they are truly excellent and the UK ought to take note.

If I wanted an appointment with my doctor I would phone and either be offered an immediate appointment or at the worst the following day.

When my neck went into spasm when a vertebra shifted and crushed the main spinal nerve, I was seen immediately by my GP who then made me an appointment to have an MRI scan at the nearest hospital. The scan was carried out 2 days later and the results/images were given to me within 30 mins of the scan with a fully typed up report by a consultant specialist.

3 days later I saw a specialist spinal surgeon and a further 3 days after that I was operated on.

Yes their system is not a free NHS system but my insurance only cost 1200€ per annum for a high end policy that covered almost all costs for my wife and myself.

Yes each time I saw my GP I had to give him 23€ in cash, but this was later fully reimbursed, in part by the state and in part by my insurance.

The costs of this operation were in excess of 9, 000 € but this yet again was partly paid for by the state with the remainder paid for by my insurance.

Surely a low cost insurance system working in close liaison with the state NHS system should be the way to go? Surely it's also better to only pay GP's each and every time they see you rather than giving them a lump sum for each and every patient signed onto their books as per the current UK system?

The major shoulder surgery I was on the receiving end of as well as the hip replacement were all equally as rapid and seamless and a true exhibition of how a health service should work.

How about going in for a blood test and receiving the full analytical results in the post the very next morning? How excellent is that?

Come on, the UK Health Service was once the be all and end all example that the rest of the world attempted to match. Has all the red tape totally killed it?

Response from KarlMarx on

The NHS would be fine if the corporations who avoid paying tax paid their fair share. £1200 per year is an impossible figure for most people in the UK but raising the upper level of National Insurance would help too.

People's health is being used as a political football to implement and profit driven agenda above patient health and care,unlike the way it was meant to be run.

I am certain the French system is much less bogged down with this bureauocracy and greed than the UK is.

Response from MarkEaston on

The French system is recognised as a good one- but they do spend considerably more of their nation's wealth on healthcare:


Insurance systems generally have higher admin costs too.

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