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September 15, 2004

'A Veritable Dictatorship' by Sylvie Simon


From the book

'Healing: An Illegal Practice'

"We have grown accustomed to believing that no illness can be cured without medicine. However, this is just a superstition. Medicines are always dangerous".

According to Plato, Socrates was condemned to death because he did not believe in the gods recognised by the State. Today, these gods have been replaced by bureaucrats and experts. Like Socrates, a great number of doctors who refuse to idolise the thought processes of these new masters are brought before a 'tribunal of exclusion', Le Conseil de l'Ordre (the Council of the Order of Doctors), who have assigned to themselves a regal power and abuse it with total impunity, all with the complicity of the health insurance organisations.

Throughout the centuries, unable to tolerate the deviations of those who drift from the established way of thinking, men of power have always found various methods to gag or prevent from 'causing damage' those who have dared to think and act differently.


In this country, 'exporter' of human rights, most people feel that the Inquisition is a practice of the past as we no longer torture in the name of God. However, we continue to torture doctors and patients in the name of a so-called medical science whose limitations and misdeeds can be constantly observed.

All doctors should have the freedom to act according to their conscience as the Hippocratic Oath declares. Furthermore, article 7 of the Code of Medical Ethics states: "The doctor is free to prescribe that which he considers the most appropriate according the circumstances". As for the Helsinki declarations (1964) and those of Tokyo (1975) that prohibit the Huriet law, the international conventions taken to national law are very clear: "In the treatment of a sick patient, the doctor must be free to resort to a new diagnostic or therapeutic method if he considers that it offers a hope of saving the life of a sick patient, returning them to health, and relieving their suffering."

In reality, however, therapeutic freedom does not exist in the land of human rights, of citizens' rights, despite certain declarations by our politicians who unanimously claim their adherence to freedom of therapeutic choice. Thus, during a dinner debate organised on February 5th 1998 at the Hotel Concorde Saint-Lazare by the association of friends of L'Evénement du Jeudi, without fear of ridicule Bernard Kouchner, the then Secretary of State for Health, declared before more than eighty people that in France "we have therapeutic freedom". Several people, suffering from illness, who were present at the debate were surprised to hear this as they had seen their medicines - not approved in France but liberally sold elsewhere - confiscated by the police a few months earlier by order of the Ministry of Health.

However, Bernard Kouchner has not always delivered this type of speech. In June 1995 he confided to the Revue des deux mondes, in an article entitled: "Medicine and Cruelty":

" . . . Our medical system has become perverse to the point that the interests of doctors can sometimes be at variance with those of the sick . . . And I will not even mention here the staggering number of appendixes that have been removed for no justifiable pathological reason in French clinics during a certain period. Nor the bladders that the surgeons - but do they still deserve that name? - have removed simply to increase their business figures, nor the trafficking in prostheses amongst certain dishonest orthopaedists who attempt to profit from a diabolical system . . . We have made great progress in medical science but we have lost sight of the most important thing: people! . . . The social security system that the French hold so dear will soon crumble if we don't seriously modify it. Small reforms will only slow down the decline. A critique of the beliefs and medical practices is necessary in our country. Let us reform medical training, where too many statistics are learned (most of which, moreover, are falsified, full of lies, erroneous and fallacious!), and not enough humanism; the CHU must give priority to the human and social sciences! . . ."

We can only agree, but why two different speeches as time goes by and circumstances change? The reality is very different from all these nice declarations we hear from the irresponsible 'people of responsibility'.

As a prosecutor once claimed back in 1930 during the trial of a healer: "It matters little that the guilty have cured their fellow beings! The only thing that interests me is if they have the right to cure. Only people holding diplomas have the right to heal and even to kill. Get a diploma, you the guilty, and you will have the right over life and death."

It is currently the case that doctors are stricken from the register and thus accused of the illegal practice of medicine, whilst still in possession of an incontestable diploma, but once removed from the register they find themselves forbidden to practise medicine and are often treated as "charlatans". So nothing has really changed since 1930 and the indictments of the modern-day prosecutors strangely resemble those of their forefathers, every time that a doctor is brought before a tribunal for having treated his patients with a substance that is 'not authorised' by the Faculty (Order) and hence considered dangerous, even if the evidence of its efficacy is manifest. These indictments produce the same litany: "The question is not whether you have cured but that you did not have the right to do so!". An accusation which could well be replaced by "non-assistance of a person in danger", if the censured doctor had not intervened.

The discrimination to which hundreds of doctors are victim is ignored by no political party, but the subject is carefully avoided by our elected representatives who wish to remain, above all, 'politically correct'.

The Ordre des médecins, the organisation of private law and public interest whose mission it is to serve the public was created on October 7th 1940 by the Vichy government, four days after the promulgation of the Jewish Statute. Its aim was, amongst others, to 'purify' the profession. A role which it has fulfilled and which it continues to fulfil, as the texts of the period and the current political repression testify. It was dissolved during the liberation, but an order on September 24th 1945 rendered it legitimate even though it had never been ratified by Parliament as the Constitution decrees.

The connections between the Order during the occupation and the current Order are clear. The Order remained the sole agent of its archives during the war period and Doctor Portes, who was president of the Order in 1943-1944, then from 1946 to 1950, is still a moral reference for the current president Bernard Glorion. His recent repentance is in total contradiction to what he declared in March 1994, "I was 13 years old in 1941. I am also one of those people who were completely unaware of 'things' at the period when they were happening".

Ever since, the method of functioning of the national Order and its departmental or regional vassals, like that of its disciplinary sectors, has hardly evolved. Any disciplinary sector operates like a court of exclusion and scorns with impunity the basic principle of open debate. The doctor in question is judged by his associates who have no judicial competence and therefore nothing can guarantee either independence or impartiality, as it is common to find doctors who have interests within the pharmaceutical industry. Likewise, in the sector of social insurance, certain judges, with salaries from health insurance funds, are both judge and jury.

What is more, until just recently, the defendant was not heard publicly: he is at present, but generally witnesses who could contribute to clearing his name are not allowed to be heard. Once condemned, the accused cannot request compensation for damage, even when this has been flagrant and no matter what the consequences, whether on a personal or a professional level.

Already, in the 1950s, in the name of the national Union of Medical Doctors, Doctor Topsen had addressed a circular to all the candidates for the legislative elections asking them if they intended to maintain an institution inspired by the occupation, four days after the Jewish Statute. ". . . the near totality of French doctors - with the exception evidently of the members of the different Order Committees - ardently desire to be rid of this organisation which has turned out to be both useless and harmful. Created by Pétain at the request of the occupation, against doctors and not for them - in order to render them servants and not to serve them - it has been since its creation an instrument of oppression in the hands of the enemy and its supporters and has not succeeded in liberating itself from the totalitarian spirit which presided at its conception."

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This situation is criticised by a growing number of doctors who consider that the existence of a Conseil de l'Ordre can be justified as a guarantee of the respect for medical ethics, but that it should withhold power from its disciplinary sector.

Certain doctors denounce their actions, which prompts Alain Dumas to say:

"In fact, the Order operates the combination of the three powers, executive, legislative, judicial, and as Montesquieu declares in spirit with the law: 'All would be lost if the same man or the same body of principles, or the nobility, or the people, exercised the three powers: that of making laws, that of executing public decisions, and that of judging crises or the differences between individuals.'

The danger of a corporatist and sectarian deviation had already been the object of a warning from the State Council in 1958. Condemned doctors cannot make an appeal to civil or penitentiary tribunals. As for the State Council, if it gives an opinion on the content, it can never judge until the end; it maintains a constant jurisprudence adhering obstinately until now to considering as inapplicable to disciplinary jurisdictions the dispositions of the article 6 - 1 of the European Convention that protect human rights and fundamental liberties: 'All persons have the right to have their case heard fairly, publicly and within reasonable delay by an independent and impartial tribunal . . .'.

Questioned recently on the aims of the Order, its president Pr. Glorion declared: 'The Ordre des Médecins does not have the competence to scientifically judge the quality of a treatment, only that of assuring that the treatment be officially validated.'

This is a confession of total submission to the French Agency for Medicine and to pharmaceutical power; moreover, it is confessing that a beneficial treatment for a patient, if it is not validated, can lead to its administrator being suspended from practice. In this line of argument, the sick patient no longer exists as an individual, but is subjected to the whims of the protocols. It is a dramatic confession and the end of Medicine with a human face". (Cf. Votre Santé: May 2000)

Effectively, in March 2000, Bernard Glorion was evoking the need to reform the ordinal institutions in his last work Medicine of the 21st Century. According to the current president, the threat of the suppression of the Ordre des Médecins, envisaged and promised by candidate François Mitterand in 1981, "revived bad memories and certainly calmed high feelings. Careful to be as discreet as possible, the members of the Conseil de l'Ordre fell into a certain lethargy . . . From the sessions of the committee to the writing of reports via contacts and meetings, deceit led to fantasy as nothing ever happened". The suggestions for reform of the permanent national committee remain secret.

The day after a disciplinary decision was taken regarding a famous cancer therapist in 1991, "the Order's wish to reform thrilled us with the Terquem report". This report included changes in the composition of the departmental councils that were more representative of the diversity of activities at the heart of the profession. It foresaw a more independent disciplinary jurisdiction with a magistrate from the beginning, with the regional council. "Other, more meticulous measures were to complete this operation which had as its aim the modernisation of an institution whose existence was no longer contested", commented the President. Coming up against a unanimous refusal, "these visionary and premonitory ideas would now be taken up and accepted with many fewer difficulties". For Bernard Glorion, the rules enunciated in the Code of Ethics are not to be ignored if one wishes to conserve the human side of the medical act. "An order of doctors that is reformed and adapted to social change constitutes an efficient rampart against the deviations of a modernism that is rash . . . The order of doctors must be representative of a large number of different forms of practice. It must be an open and transparent organisation, of service to society, thus harmonising with the motto of the British Medical Council that one could translate as: protection of the sick, guidance for doctors."

At the end of a lyrical flight of fancy about the exceptional mission of the Order to preserve health and to respect human beings throughout their lives until death, this president-doctor turns to the subject of the rights of ill people: "Of course, it may seem utopian, even hurtful, to speak of the rights of the ill. Isn't this judicial formula in contradiction to the notion of service, of generosity and devotion that constitute the honour of the world of medicine?" All whilst recognising that it is unfortunately sometimes necessary to remind doctors that they have duties, he suggests going further, to "also speak of the duties of the patients and the rights of the doctors. The future of healthcare depends on the sharing of responsibilities as in a reciprocal mutual assistance". The current president nevertheless refrains from suggesting that there be representatives of patients at the heart of the Ordre des Médecins, as is the case in the United Kingdom.

So, according to professor Glorion, the ideas regarding the reform of the permanent national committee of the national Order were never revealed after the electoral promise to suppress it by the future president of the Republic in 1981. And despite this wish to reform, the Terquem report, with its "visionary and premonitory ideas", was unanimously rejected in 1991. According to the present Secretary of State for Health: "It would however be currently accepted without difficulty"; nevertheless, he is not sure that this project of reform should be integrated into the governmental text for the modernisation of the health system.

Why, under such conditions, in twenty years, has this desire for reform been clearly expressed only by the partial opening of closed doors? Why did Professor Glorion, who claims to support an Order that is representative of a diversity of practices, not react when his homeopathic colleagues were called "recruiters for sects" by the Secretary of State for Health?

The same month that his book came out, the Green Party deputies took their turn in opposing the organisation and practices of the departmental sectors of the Order, accusing it of "partiality, union favouritism and fraudulent electoral procedures". Of course the French ecologists refer only to the "serious deviations of certain departmental sectors that have filed a complaint against certain referring doctors with the sole aim of obstructing the establishment of a legal system", but one can hope that the parliamentary commission that they are asking for will not remain a pious wish and will be the point of departure for indispensable reform in depth of the Order, leading it to total conformity with human rights.

Following the opposition of the Greens, the President of the national Order agreed to an interview with the paper Libération. He recognised the abuses of certain doctors holding positions in the departmental Order all whilst being union elected or members of an ordinal jurisdiction. According to him, certain departmental councils are even "organised like small feudalities". In confessing to "having requested, for seven years, modifications to our system", he justified on the other hand the necessity for in-depth reform of this archaic order of doctors (luxuriously installed at the Boulevard Haussmann, after having moved from the Boulevard La Tour Maubourg) and stated the impotence of this desire to reform. Despite these criticisms, March 25th 2001, during a channel 2 programme on the Ordre des Médecins, the president did not hesitate to affirm that: "The Order guarantees the independence of doctors", whilst Dr Bernard Debré admitted that the Order was "corporate".

In his work A Split World (La fêlure du monde) André Glucksmann tells of

"the adventure of a certain surgeon, at the time president of the Order of Doctors, therefore spokesman for the ethics and morality of the medical world . . . In the early eighties he was given a blood transfusion. Two or three years went by and a colleague recommended a test. He thought this sensible and complied: negative. 'And then?' asked a journalist, seven years later. 'And then; nothing', he answered. Relieved on his own account, he did not warn the thousands of people who had received transfusions in these years of ignorance. All of them ran a similar risk to his own. President, ex-president, never once did the thought occur to him to make a public announcement. . . This doctor, ill at ease, regretful . . . referred to the long, spiritual blindness that led him to neglect his own interests, then those of his constituents, finally those of a whole population, as 'a blind spot'. . . He became as suicidal as he had previously been almost homicidal."

As for the CNAM (Caisse nationale d'assurances maladies - National Health Insurance Fund), although they fiercely defend themselves to the contrary, they are even more dogged than the Order when it comes to pursuing those who stray from the beaten track. Their national counsellor-doctor, Pr. Hubert Allemand, insists: "cases of harassment (of liberal doctors by the health insurance's counsellor-doctors) do not exist" and he "guarantees a medical service that does a difficult job with a great deal of rigour, that is to say, precision" (cf. Le Quotidien du médecin February 23rd 2000). These statements provoked an outcry from liberal doctors. "Mr. Allemand's statements are unacceptable, but certainly reveal the state of mind of many of the leaders and executives in health insurance: arrogant certainty of the total authority of the administration, refusal to be aware of and admit their errors, refusal to accept any responsibility related to their everyday decisions. Democracy is in a bad way when the administration adopts such a stance." replied Dr Patrick Gérard de Nantes in the publication Le Quotidien du médecin March 8th 2000. Dr Martial Groboz commented that he is a "victim of the tribunals of exclusion that the CMR represents".

"Yes, harassment exists, whether or not Pr. Hubert Allemand agrees. His declarations to the contrary will not succeed in hiding the truth for long", says Dr Roch Menes de Clermont-Ferrand in the same magazine. "Rather than deny the evidence, Pr.Allemand would no doubt be advised to pay careful attention to the control of the funds and to attempt to put them into some order. . . But it is easier and more politically correct to take it out on the practitioners than to fight the malfunctioning of health-insurance funds.".

Back cover description of

Healing: an Illegal Practice

By Sylvie Simon

How is it possible to legally practise medicine, respect the Hippocratic Oath and the rights of ill people, in the face of the dictatorship of the Conseil de l'Ordre, in addition to that of the pharmaceutical lobbies?

This question, essential to the well-being of each one of us, is at the heart of Sylvie Simon's book. The author, who has gathered statements from courageous doctors, gives us access to the cogs of a machine that is controlled by the Conseil de l'Ordre, a tribunal of exclusion. She reveals how this Order uses and abuses its regal power in order to muzzle doctors who choose to heal their patients solely according to their knowledge and their conscience.

This book therefore, through the experiences of various practitioners, helps us to understand the pain of those who give their lives to curing the sick and who suddenly find themselves forbidden to practise on the pretext that they dare question a system that is on the whole riddled with the rot of medical and economic authority.


mandato da Robin Good il Wednesday September 15 2004
aggiornato il Monday September 25 2006

URL of this article:


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