Monday, 11 April 2011

Touche pas a mon Hopital

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Supine, unconcerned or entirely self-centred voters are a feature of modern democracries.  At first glance, France is no exception.  But to an outsider, after a few years, the differences are very marked.  The French get out into the streets and protest, usually in a civilised manner.  Politicians here are not all that different from politicians everywhere.  When they have a success on their hands they want to move on to more dangerous territory.  France has rightly achieved the miracle status of the country with the world's most accessible and, in many ways, best health care system.  The system is humane, well-administered and, by modern standards, affordable.  Nobody needs to be left to die or to deteriorate in misery.  Appointments are readily available at short notice and the care is often, if not usually, world class.  But, yes, far too many drugs are prescribed and perhaps that might be a good subject for improvers.

As ever, money is always available for a war but the health and education systems are costing more than they are worth in the eyes of the politicians.  Less immediate glory perhaps.  Political careers are short, major achievements take a little longer.  Now local hospitals are being neglected and under-funded, apparently in the hope that the inevitable deterioration will justify centralisation/closure.  The small hospital in Die has an enviable reputation for its freedom from secondary infection and its relative efficiency. But, like many others, it is slated for closure just as soon as a way can be found to silence its supporters.  Without the hospital, the people of Die will have to travel about 70 km to Valence and people from outlying areas much further.  Some people will die but that is the cost of keeping up the defence budget or whatever.  Will there be an allocation of funds to transport urgent cases and to improve facilities in Valence?

On 2nd April about 500 of Die's citizens, under the slogan 'Touche pas a mon Hopital', marched from the hospital to the sub-prefecture in protest.  500 is a good proportion from a town of less than 5000.  The protests were repeated all over France.  Will the politicians take note?

Protestors straddle the Rue Camille Buffardel, the main shopping street in Die.

. . .  and, in the Place de la Republique, Marianne urges on the concerned citizens.  Only fools underestimate Republican values.

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