The benefits of the French A&E system


Sir, – Gareth Clifford (August 9th) seems to confuse funding of the French health service with Marjorie Markey’s observations (August 7th) about the stress-free provision of emergency health services in France.

The reality is that if one is taken ill in France a phone call to the SAMU (Services d’Aide Médicale Urgente) will connect you to a doctor in a regional hospital. After “aggressive triage” that doctor will decide how best to provide the medical assistance needed – either arranging primary care or if hospital treatment is needed sending first response vehicles provided by the fire service or private ambulance services or arranging on-site medical intervention by a hospital-based SMUR (Service Mobile d’Urgence et Reanimation – literally translated as Mobile Emergency and Resuscitation Service).

When on-site, medical intervention is provided by the SMUR the patient will be taken straight to the appropriate hospital ward for follow-up treatment, bypassing the Urgences (emergency) department. By eliminating cases that can be treated in a primary care setting and treating the more serious cases on site the apparent chaos that typifies many Irish A&E departments is avoided.

Also the use of single rooms (not “cubicles”) in the Urgences Department of French hospitals further contributes to the stress-free atmosphere that Ms Markey describes. More importantly, patient outcomes are much improved. Simon Harris would do well to study the French system rather than looking to the British NHS which is almost as chaotic as ours.

As for Mr Clifford’s comments about the cost of this wonderful system for the patient, all that can be said is that if you love bureaucracy you’ll love France, but at the end of the day we get the health care system we’re willing to pay for. – Yours, etc,


Malahide, Co Dublin.