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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
French surgeons begin UK 'exile'
French surgeon takes up 'exile' in UK
French surgeons argue that they deserve better
Hundreds of French surgeons have begun a symbolic "exile" in Britain to demand the right to charge higher fees.

The private sector doctors plan to spend four days at the southern English resort of Camber Sands.

The group Surgeons of France says fees have remained static for 15 years while insurance rates have soared tenfold because of an explosion in lawsuits.

The group says the French government promised extra funds last year, but the money has not materialised.

"The agreement was never put into effect. Surgeons feel betrayed and are determined to show it," said spokesman Philippe Cuq.

I didn't know that the healthcare model in Great Britain was so much better than France's
French government spokesman

The group said current policies had forced several private hospitals to close.

The surgeons chartered a special train to bring 800 practitioners to the UK via the Channel Tunnel, though the French railway operator SNCF said only about 400 people made the trip on Tuesday morning.

As many as 3,000 surgeons across France went on strike on Monday, the French news channel LCI reported, though only some were attending the convention in England.

Deal 'unfulfilled'

One doctor, queuing for his ticket at the Gare du Nord station in Paris, said the medics had chosen Britain because it was "a friendly country with a health system radically different from ours, a system where the doctor is at the centre of the picture and the patient is taken in charge by the doctor, including managing costs".

The surgeons threatened to go ahead with their "exile" last year, but called off the plans when a deal was struck with the government to allow them to increase fees by 12-25%.

"On the nine points of the deal, only one has been applied - and only halfway on that," said Guy-Marie Cousin, an obstetrician and gynecologist who acts as a spokesman for Surgeons of France.

Government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope insisted the agreement would be kept.

"I didn't know that the healthcare model in Great Britain was so much better than France's," he said.

"I even have the feeling that it's rather the opposite."

One surgeon explains why the group has come to England

Hospital calls in French doctors
14 Nov 04 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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