FRANCE'S highest court has ordered GPs to stop adding an extra €1 to their consultation fees.
Several GPs have been charging €23 instead of the agreed €22 as part of a campaign to get the rate officially increased.
A social security court in Grenoble was the first to find in favour of a group of doctors charging the extra €1 - but this ruling has now been overturned.
The cour de cassation ruled yesterday that GPs had no right to charge more than what their contract with the state health system allows.
Doctors in France sign up to a convention médicale with the Assurance Maladie, fixing the fees they charge patients. Sector 1 GPs cannot exceed the €22 limit, while Sector 2 doctors - many of whom are specialists - can charge extra.
The Assurance Maladie welcomed the ruling, but doctors' union MG France said it would continue encouraging its members to charge the higher fee.
It has been campaigning with other doctors' unions for a rise in the standard consultation fee for several years - and says the government agreed to €23 in 2007.
Another union, the CSMF, warns that the number of practising GPs in France could be halved by 2025 if surgeries are not given more funding.
Doctors say low wages are discouraging young graduates from entering the profession, which means an increased number of patients per surgery as other doctors retire.
Several surgeries around France were closed yesterday in a national strike.
aline caldwell - Fotolia.com