Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two slices of French life...

The first concerns a decision by our lcal Mayor to remove a number of public benches from certain parts of the town centre because 'they were being used by unemployed and down-and-outs' and some residents  had apparently complained. There were a number of protests about discrimination and freedom for everyone to sit on a public bench, and a bright couple installed a sofa in front of the town hall, with a sign offering 'free seating' to anyone who cared to use it. They are also planning to manufacture and site wooden seats made out of old pallets, they announced, to widespread popular support.

The second concerns the excellent French public health care service, sadly heavily in debt. A couple of days ago I had to have a routine blood test, which involved going to a 'laboratoire d'analyse' which is conveniently just around the corner from where I live. After fasting from midnight, normally one wants to arrive as early as possible, and my schedule went something like this:

0710 - Arrived at the labo - three other people waiting
0715 - Doors open precisely on time
0720 - Seen by receptionist and had my d├ętails recorded
0725 - Called by the doctor who took samples in 8 separate glass phials
0735 - At the local boulangerie buying my breakfast croissants
0745 - Back home, enjoying my croissants and coffee!

As it was a Saturday the labo closes at 1200 noon so I got the results on Monday morning instead of the same day. They are also sent direct to my doctor and some labos have a system where, armed with a unique code, you can access your results online from your home computer. The whole operation cost €40 reimbursed (70%) by the health service. Patients keep their own documents and can read any accompanying reports and they are routinely regarded as customers of the services provided with a natural right to this information.