We have lived off and on for 5 years in France and have used the health service quite extensively for physical disorders such as heart problems hip replacements etc and have found the service excellent and very efficient and not unduly expensive. My wife (not the only one) suffers from depression and she has seen her GP here in France who has helped her enormously over the years, even helping her to pioneer new and effective drug therapies. Everything has been fine but at the end of this week she went down, down, down and became suicidal. Over the weekend how do you find help in such a situation? She had spent a short time in a local specialist hospital to good effect. I contacted them to see if they could help her over the weekend and they said I had to go urgences first who would get a medecin to refer immediately to their hospital. I confidently took her today sunday to our brand new state of the art hospital which had impressed us so much in the past. I explained the situation in my not too good French ( my wife is fluent) and they admitted her but because they had "beaucoup demand" she was wheeled into a waiting area and told she would be seen sometime in the next 4 hours! The nature of her illness means she gets very agitated so being a fiery Welsh woman who is articulate especially in French, demanded attention immediately . They told her she would have to wait as there were more urgent life and death patients . So she said fine I am leaving to which the nurse said she could not and must return to the hospital. My wife complied but still agitated demanded to see the medecin and threatened to leave. The response was unbelieveable. I was waiting just outside and heared her screaming for me to come to her, when I arrived the nurses had strapped and locked her torso and both arms to the bed to stop her getting out. I said that was unacceptable and to release her immediately but they refused and said it was only the medecin who could undo the straps and she was busy with more urgent cases!!
We had gone to the hospital voluntarily following French protocol to ask for help for a serious and potentially life threatening condition to find my wifes right of freedom removed because she emphatically voiced her dissatisfaction with the treatment she was receiving. The hospital was obviously overstretched and was not coping so incarceration was their way of coping with a mental illness. She could have been left like that for hours awaiting the medecin! I managed to get them to "release" her saying I would take responsibility for her but we still could not leave before the medecin had seen and discharged her. I waited until the nurses where occupied and then we both sneaked out like escaping prisoners.
My wife is traumatised and I am horrified by her treatment and just wonder who approach in order to make a complaint or do I have to accept that this is an acceptable procedure in a supposedly civilised democracy!