French connections - Is French healthcare the best in the world?

It’s not something I’ve looked at much research on - but on an anecdotal basis I’m in a good position to compare France with the UK, as I’ve had here the same cancer my Dad had in the UK. My verdict: the staff are wonderful in both systems, but literally everything else - medical technology, treatments available, organisation, etc - and most especially the non-medical stuff like hospital food, comfort, etc - is much better in France.
My cancer was treated successfully - and I’m left feeling that the French health service is so much better, I wouldn’t go back to the UK now for this reason alone (and there are many others of course!).


Not so much if you live in a healthcare desert where there is a very high proportion of patients to GP’s.
Here in Burgundy-Franche Comte, Urgence is on strike because of lack of staff and investment in buildings and equipment.
In Cluny, at our medical healthcare practice, two doctors have retired and mine is only working part time.
Before registering at Cluny we were with the local doctor, who is allowed to work on his own, with a computer!

I moved to france from the UK specifically for my conditions… while i love the NHS and am still incurring cots with the french system in the UK my pernicious anemia /bulmiers desiese got so bad I was unable to walk, shaking and having breathing issues along with pain for months… NHS kept saying I was imaging it despite booking me an MRI (for 6 months later and saying urgent) and prescribing months of codeine but no B12 for my conditions… luckily my partner took me to France and Drs saw issue instantly after daily injections (which I’m still on and I asked UK Drs for but was rejected being told it may give cancer - lie) I can now walk and work again and only get occasional pain and issues… I feel UK Drs are good for well known conditions but for some specific issues are useless… I now work in a job I hate in France and would love to return to UK to do my old job of being a chocolatier alas if I do I’ll get sick again. And know full well UK Drs w/o ignore my condition… In Summary i feel french drs seem far superoir for my specific condition and uk ones were terrible and would have let me die (french drs amazed UK ones did codeine condition and not the cheaper harmless cure)

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That is unfortunate Jane - perhaps we are just geographically lucky, but our GP practice here - and our village Pharmacy - are both excellent.
One example - a few years ago I foolishly dropped an open pair of loppers, and one of the open blades went straight into my leg - cue wife fainting. It was on a Saturday, but I went down to the local GP, who stitched me up straight away. That evening the nurse came round to change the dressing, and again the next day - when she told me the doctor had phoned her at 8.30pm last night - Saturday night remember - to check all was well with the wound.
Now THAT is a caring doctor.


Thanks for sharing this. My experience of both has made me proud to be both British and french. But I’m a little defensive having mixed with a few Americans whose view of the NHS is pretty sad.

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To be clear NHS Amazing for all other things they did for me… just not this particular condition which happened to be debilitating

I was going past our Mayor’s house the other day and the district nurse came tearing down the drive, straight out into the road, only seeing me at the last moment.
screech of brakes and we just missed each other.
The strange case of the nurse perhaps putting the patient into hospital!

I’m not in a position to say whether the French healthcare system is better or worse than the NHS, either as a patient or as a vintage clinical practitioner, but my sense is that the practice of medicine in France is quite different in some respects from that in UK.

It’s rather like the food culture: most of the ingredients are very similar but the preparation of ingredients, the way they are measured out, combined, cooked, presented and consumed are very dissimilar indeed.

Medicins traitants seem to display more flair and sometimes more personal idiosyncrasy in the way they configure treatment regimes than their UK counterparts.

My view on this is probably the product of attending a single-doctor practice. That situation does relieve the practitioner of the stresses of peer-pressure, competition, and over-supervision and ‘performance monitoring’; but there are risks in that too, and inconveniences: she has no nurse or clerk to arrange appointments. Sometimes her surgery is unattended during advertised hours. Getting an appointment is very much ‘pot-luck’.

These days it’s my impression that UK doctors are a lot more likely to take a more consultative position with patients than formerly, and have been trained to see patients with a less paternalistic eye. I’m not sure from our own experience that is true of French practitioners I recall the nurses at a private eye hospital in France being astounded when my wife changed her mind about surgery on the day of admission: “That’s impossible! The bed has been prepared!” You don’t say? Unprepare it!

However time will tell. But I’m not pleased at having to find Euro 25 everytime I renew my prescription and Euro 50 a blood test. Our monthly mutuelle top-up of Euro 73 covers the cost of admission and booking a hospital bed if hospital care is called for, and that’s a tidy sum over 12 months “just in case” for an 81 year old pensioner.

But I’m really not complaining, just comparing like for like.

ya old skinflint!
cut out the alcohol and save a tidy sum that way to fund better healthcare :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::rofl::upside_down_face:
Other than that, talk to @fabien to seek out a better deal :wink:

Are you not in the state system Peter? A GP visit with examination costs us 24€, but we get 18€ back from the state, and the rest from our mutual; without examination (ie. just a talk) the cost is only 8€; repeat prescriptions are free, and so is everything if you are ‘ALD’ (ie. have a serious long-term condition).
I actually think the French system of pay-and-get-reimbursed is better then the UK free-at-the-point-of-use system, especially once you have your carte vitale and reimbursement is more-or-less immediate: I think the French system (a) curtails frivolous use, while not putting anybody with real need off, and (b) enables the easy adjustment of reimbursement according to the seriousness of the health issue, public health considerations, etc.


I’m not sure the French approach curtails the inappropriate use at all. It’s only recently that they clamped down on people going for endless second opinions. And since many people have mutuelles paid for by their employers then healthcare is nigh on free, so there is rarely any thought as to whether people actually need to see a doctor.

Only last week our neighbour asked if we could take her down to the doctor for an urgent appointment. Of course said OH, as it’s urgent. And what was it? Turns out she had had a nose bleed the previous evening, and had never had one before. We have one doctor in our town of 2,500 people who is seriously overworked, but still cares enough to make room for people if they say it is urgent. So to me that is totally inappropriate. And I can think of many other examples.

But I don’t understand why Peter doesn’t get the normal CPAM reimbursement. We no longer have full mutuelles as it was costing about 1,500€ more a year than we received back, so just hospital cover. But we get the standard reimbursements, so I prefer to pay 8€ for a 20 minute doctor’s appointment than nothing in the UK for a rushed 5 minutes.

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For someone with certain conditions, a so called ‘simple’ nosebleed can signal other more serous underlying problems so it was quite right to seek medical attention IMO.
Far better the MT than clog up the Urgence as it would be in the yUK.

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Yes, but she doesn’t have other conditions. She had a 5 minute nosebleed which has not reoccured. The previous time we took her down it was because when was bitten by an insect, before that it was a small rash on. her leg. If she says it is urgent the doctor can’t say no, in case it actually is, and neither do we. And I’m not saying she shouldn’t see doc, merely wait a few days for normal appointment.

I would say it can be good but you can also get treated like a Guinée pig at the CHU.
After getting a torn retina and the eye department not finding the problem, even though all the symptoms of it.
I had a week in hospital finding the problem, drips, drugs, brain scans, and after 2 and half months with my eyesight going to practically nothing , there was talk of sending me somewhere else. When my girlfriend insisted i was sent to a private hospital. With one test and the doctor looking at my eye he knew what was wrong but it’s been 3 years of ups and downs to get back to normal.
So it can be good but also the french can not see sideways for another problem or answer, they are very blinkered.

Thanks @JaneJones for this:

“But I don’t understand why Peter doesn’t get the normal CPAM reimbursement.”

I do get a CPAM re-imbursement promptly and it is €16 for a €25 consultation that lasts about 3 minutes, because I just ask for a repeat prescription for an antidepressant that I have taken for 20 years, and which I have been advised never to stop, although I have tried four times under supervision, with very negative results, severe recurrence of suicidal impulses, horrific dreams etc etc.

I think my depression is viewed as severe and chronic by my medical advisors. But I don’t get rebates on the charges incurred (they aren’t huge, I admit).

I have never been told of the €8 consultation and, to be honest, I’m very reluctant to bring it up now lest it sour the relationship I have with my MT.

We’ll all have come across such different practices in different places - in relation to obtaining cartes de sejour for example. For repeat prescriptions (as long as it’s our normal doctor) we just ask the practice receptionist, who writes a note for the doctor, then we collect the prescription at the end of surgery - no charge at all.

Maybe MTs look for a consultation because if they write a script, they don’t get paid for the time it takes to do. Best practice IMO is that the MT will particularly seek a proper consultation where there have been a number of repeat prescriptions and it is deemed appropriate to review what is being dispensed.

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Our MT has neither practice receptionist, nor nurse, nor anyone to help her with anything. She works single-handed in one room in an otherwise empty Maison de Santé.

But she is incredibly assiduous in her work. I don’t know how she manages and I don’t begrudge her a centime of what she earns.

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@Peter_Goble as is the case with our MT Peter.