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Call to use vets in medical deserts

Drafting in vets for emergency healthcare in poorly-served areas is being proposed by a deputy mayor of Dijon

A DEPUTY mayor of Dijon, Burgundy, has suggested vets could be drafted in to make up for a lack of doctors in “medical desert” areas.

Françoise Tenenbaum, in charge of health at the city council, told France Info radio: “We have been working since 2004 to create a network across the territory so that all Burgundians are guaranteed to have access to healthcare.

“It is a matter of teamwork – doctors, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists… so why should we not ask vets and see if they would accept, with a little bit of training, to help with first aid?”

They would not replace doctors, she said, but, because they are present across the region, they could give urgent care while waiting for a doctor to be called out. “It’s happened before that vets have saved people in emergencies,” she said.

Told that people would find the idea funny, she said: “People laugh at any new idea before it’s been studied seriously.”

However, the head of Burgundy’s professional body for vets, Gérard Vignault, said the idea was “irresponsible and dangerous” because vets are “not at all competent to carry out human medicine”.

His equivalent for doctors, Jean-Pierre Mouroux, said the idea had “set the cat among the pigeons” and “will be remembered for its good intentions”.

The director of the regional health agency, Monique Cavalier, said it was “absolutely not thinkable today” and was not included in the regional health plan for Burgundy.

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