France and the ‘guaranteed’ access to health care

France’s health minister Marisol Touraine is yet another socialist who presents herself as being concerned and credible.

Like most misguided health ministers, she considers tobacco to be anathema. Alcohol is her latest target: ‘there is no safe amount’. This in the nation which makes the world’s finest wines.

Meanwhile, with all her attempts to be concerned about the health of those who live in France, her son is serving a prison sentence for extorting money from a neighbour. When the story hit the French press last year, the victim — a woman — still hadn’t received any compensation or heard from Touraine’s lawyer.

If such a crime had involved one of Sarkozy’s or his ministers’ family members, the Parti Socialiste would have been baying for blood. But as it’s one of theirs, the incident can be swept quietly under the carpet. Nothing to see here, move along.

Touraine’s latest pronouncement took place during an online interview this week. Of course, she considers e-cigarettes nearly as dangerous as traditional ones. However, the real kicker was when she said:

Being on the Left means guaranteeing access to health care.

Such a statement defies all logic.

First, no conservative government in France has ever sought to dismantle the health system.

Second, her department has several mountains of their own making to climb. Rural areas are still short of doctors, certain drugs are now no longer reimbursed, casualty centres are closing (e.g. Hôtel Dieu in Paris), midwives went on strike and, last week, someone died in casualty waiting for treatment at Hôpital Cochin in Paris.

But what really rankled listeners and readers of the interview was Touraine’s guaranteed access to health care. The comments which follow say it all:

… many French people no longer have the means to pay for health care, meanwhile, immigrants have access to everything … It’s unfair! Pah, ‘the Left’.

‘Being on the Left means guaranteeing access to health care.’ Yes, for undocumented foreigners!

I adore your ‘being on the Left’, Madame Touraine!!! As if the Left ‘invented’ access to health care!!! Who do you think you are, Madame Touraine?? Many others thought of it long before you appeared on the scene, so concentrate on maintaining this guarantee, which seems to be a problem for you.

Seventy-five per cent of French people aren’t on the Left. It’s easy to create policies with their money. From a historical perspective, don’t forget, Madame Touraine, that it was General de Gaulle who put Social Security in place which guaranteed access to health care.

Yes, it was de Gaulle who started Social Security after the Second World War. The newsweekly Marianne had an article on it a few weeks ago. He feared another French revolution because of postwar austerity and inequality.

However, he — like his counterparts elsewhere in the West, including Great Britain — never envisaged that it would be the all-encompassing burden that it has become.

This story illustrates what would happen if we get another Labour government in 2015. It’s bad enough that we have Labour-lite at the moment, but rEd and his team would be a disaster. Furthermore, the last thing we would get would be an English parliament or an EU referendum. Instead, we would likely become a one-party nation for years to come.