Reporter: Sarah Lane

Contact at destination: Hopital: Marie-Rose Rothe, Chef de service d’urgences, Hopital Yves Le Foll St Brieuc

Generalistes: Dr G. Trotel, 3 rue du lac, Plurien, 22240/ Dr E Bouvet, 20 Rue Castelnau, Erquy, 22240

Year of visit: 2006

Country: France

Region: Brittany,

Institution: Hôpital Yves Le Foll, GP practices in Erquy and Plurien

Department: Urgences et SAMU/SMUR, and GP

Work / Study undertaken:

GP- observation of consultations, home visits

Hospital: A and E (Urgences): observation of emergency treatment, outpatient surgical clinics, minor procedures. SAMU/SMUR: joined team in emergency outreach vehicle ( this was really good), carried out equipment checks, learnt how control centre operates. Helped develop framework for answering Anglophone emergency calls.

Description of the service and department

Urgences is a busy emergency department, particularly during the tourist season, when the population balloons compared to its usual size. It is attached to a short term hospital stay unit (a clinical decision unit). The SAMU are responsible for handling and arranging all emergency and out of hours health problems to be dealt with by the SMUR who are the outreach Doctors who go out in the emergency response vehicles. They also frequently liaise with the Pompiers (literally fire brigade, but are paramedic trained). The two GPs are single handed GPs who work locally.

Description of the destination

Plurien is a small village 1 km from the sea, roughly between the large cities of St Malo to the east and St Brieuc to the west. Erquy is a small fishing town 10 mins away, which is the largest producer of scallops in the whole of Europe! St Brieuc is a town 40 minutes away, which has the large district general hospital of Yves Le Foll.

Were the local people friendly?

The GPs were very friendly, but very short of time due to the large number of patients they see in the summer season. The senior hospital Doctors were very friendly and would often spend a long time chatting/explaining things, but the Internes (PRHOs) were often too busy to spend time to explain the system and their duties. The Ambulance drivers who worked for the SMUR were a very friendly bunch, who were keen to practice their English with me, and look after me as much as possible. Random French policemen who turned up in A and E with convicts were very happy to chat to me for as long as they could!

Did you feel safe and if not why not? Yes, people leave their cars with the keys in the ignition!

What did you do in your spare time ?

Going to the beaches, walking along the coast path, playing tennis

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Go to the Breton Fetes or Fest- Noz. You can eat great local food really cheaply, like Moules-Frites, Pote (a sort of Breton vegetable stew thing with meat in it), roast pig (Cochon grille).

What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like?

July and August- there was a heat wave!

What was your accommodation like? I stayed in a family holiday home so I don’t know what it would be like to look for accommodation on your own. You might be able to arrange to stay at the internat

Was it provided? No

If not who arranged it? Me

How much did it cost? I didn’t have to pay anyone at the hospital anything for having me, so the main cost was petrol, and living expenses. I got free lunches whilst at the hospital

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, it was brilliant.

Did you find it useful medically? If so, in what way?

Yes, although I wasn’t allowed to do as much as I wanted to at the hospital, for insurance reasons. I particularly enjoyed seeing the pre-hospital care offered by the SAMU as it is such a different approach compared to in the UK

Has it improved your French? Definitely. I quickly realized that ‘angine’ is not like angina pectoris which you might assume, but is in fact a sore throat! I would definitely recommend a high level of French before attempting an elective, otherwise I don’t think it you would get much out of it. Medical French is enough of a challenge even if otherwise your French is good.

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Yes! Lots of food and booze. Also got to know many Doctors in the area which will help for any future stays in France. Also got to understand the health needs of the area I was staying in.

How did you get there? I drove from Calais, but you can get a boat to St Malo which is 45 mins away, but this is more expensive if you need to take a car, especially in summer.

What was the approximate total cost? Hmm about £ 1000 for 6 weeks. Ish.

Is there any other information that you think may be useful? Make sure you hassle hospitals for a ‘Convention de Stage’ before you start. Despite many requests, mine was only given to me on the first day, which is when I realized I wasn’t going to be allowed to do much!

Don’t be surprised that French Doctors are chain smokers… even within the hospital.