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Professions strike over reform threat

Pharmacists lead way as doctors, dentists, notaires and lawyers shut doors in protest at government cost-cutting plan

DOCTORS, dentists, ophthalmologists and chemists are going on strike today along with notaires, lawyers and huissiers (bailiffs) in protest at government plans to reform the so-called “regulated professions” to open them up and bring down costs.

The plans, put forward by sacked economy minister Arnaud Montebourg in what he called a “law for growth”, aim to bring in controls on their tariffs and open them up to competition.

Pharmacists are expected to lead the way today with the Union Nationale des Professions Libérales claiming that 90% are shutting their doors.

The professions are united in their opposition to the government’s aim of opening up ownership of pharmacies and other agencies to professional corporations where the aim could be profit rather than public service.

Doctors, dentists and chemists also fear that the numerus clausus, which restricts the number of students studying medicine, dental medicine, pharmacy and physiotherapy, would also be scrapped.

When the plans were announced, Mr Montebourg said they could give “€6billion of spending power back to French people” but Prime Minister Manuel Valls says this is unrealistic.

The proposals were based largely on a report by the Inspection Générale des Finances spending watchdog which said that profits in the regulated professions were more than twice what was possible in the rest of French industry. It proposed opening up some of the professions and setting maximum tariffs for some others.
Photo: Hermann Luyken

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