Another first: the French health system

15 September 2009

Today was the day: I had an appointment for our children to see a GP. No, our children are both perfectly healthy, but in France you need a medical certificate to prove it if you want to participate in any sports activities. Linus starts his climbing course next week, so it was about time we got written confirmation that he doesn’t suffer from any disease. The same goes for Lucy, who wants to

  • horse ride
  • take up  climbing
  • carry on with ballet and
  • swimming.

In addition, she would like violin lessons and to play in an orchestra again (will she need the medical certificate for these activities? Not sure…) . It’s great to have a child with many interests… but we are currently discussing which of those activities we have time for on a Wednesday and what is actually affordable…

Anyway, we had our appointment tonight after school, at 5.30pm. The weather in Lyon has not been great today, it was rather cool and it rained, so we decided to use public transport to get to the doctor, whose surgery is in the lovely and posh 6e arrondissement. We didn’t get home until 5, so we had to be quick. But even in Lyon you get some sort of rush hour and we got stuck in it, it took us much longer to get to the surgery than it would have done on our bikes. When we arrived, I was in for a shock: the sign outside said ‘dentiste’, the place smelt like a dental surgery and I thought for a minute I had lost it completely! Had I booked my children in with a dentist rather than a general practitioner? I got my contenance back quickly though and thought to myself: ‘… we also have to find a dentist, so no worries, I’ll try for the medical certificate another day’… Luckily I found out during my conversation with the lady at the reception (I used my super weapon: impeccable French!! You go far with this in France!! 🙂 ) that the surgery is run by a husband and wife: She is a GP, he is a dentist. I was glad when I finally understood this, to me, this is  just a weird set-up, but it was reassuring to think that I  had understood the website correctly.  By the way, the website was in English, but I sometimes think I can’t trust my cognitive abilities theses days… and really, isn’t this kind of set up most peculiar?

When we saw the doctor, I was amazed: you get value  for money in France! Both children had their heart and lungs listened to properly, their tummies were checked, their calves kneaded, their tongues and tonsils looked at and their were weighed and measured, including Linus’ blood pressure. We NEVER had this kind of  assessment with our GP in Britain, just to determine whether the kids are fit to do sports… I suppose it is the different attitude to health care in both countries. In Britain you go to the GP when something is wrong, in France you go when you are okay, just to make sure there is really, really nothing wrong with you 🙂

Anyway, both children got the all-clear to do any sport they wish to play, and I HAVE IT IN WRITING!!! I shall proudly take my certificate to the swimming pool tomorrow and  enrol Lucy for swimming lessons

We got home very late tonight: The tram between Perrache and St Priest, our line, wasn’t running, because there had been a bad accident just at our stop: A pedestrian had been run over by the tram. Awful. Not a very nice end to the day and I hope that the person survives. It looked though as if the emergency services were on the scene very quickly. You just can’t beat a well funded and run health system.

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4 Responses to “Another first: the French health system”

  1. Sabine Says:

    Well, you can understand now why French people have a shock when they come to England ! But the nice government we have in France is trying to make the health system like the English one ( but without the free part !). So make the most of it while it is still good.
    How is Linus with the school ?

    • birolilu Says:

      Hi Sabine, yes, we will! I think Linus rather enjoyed the attention, and so did Lucy :). Growing up with an nurse who worked in the NHS as a mum, you don’t get much sympathy…;)

  2. Steve Says:

    Having completed my entry for next years Paris marathon today I have just discovered for myself the French requirement for a medical certificate before participation is allowed. The website tells me that if said certificate does not include the words ‘fit for’ and ‘running competition’ then I won’t be allowed to start. Sounds like I’m being certified to compete in the Olympics rather than a gentle trot around the Parisian landmarks (which is more what I have in mind) …

    • birolilu Says:

      Steven, I hope you get that certificate in quickly, the girls want to meet and hang out while you are working up a sweat running round Paris :). I hope you get the all clear!! But then, I suppose your GP will take one look at you, laugh, and instantly certify your fitness to participate in a running competition onto the top of Mount Everest without additional external oxygen supply….


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