France: A village declares a “ban” on weekend deaths

The mayor of a French village has forbidden its inhabitants from dying on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The move is aimed at garnering attention to the lack of physicians.

The scarcity of rural physicians comes under criticism

The mayor of a French village has forbidden its inhabitants from dying on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The move is aimed at garnering attention to the lack of physicians.

The mayor of the village of La Gresle, Loire department, central France, has issued a municipal decree forbidding its inhabitants from dying on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. An extreme decision, deemed as necessary to denounce the lack of physicians in the rural region.

"Residents are forbidden indefinitely to die at home in the commune on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays", according to the published decree text. Isabelle Dugelet, mayor of the village of about 850 inhabitants, took this decision to denounce what she perceives as an absurd situation.

The complex road to a declaration of death

On December 1st, 2019, a resident of the local old people's home died. It took the mayor two and a half hours to find a physician to declare the resident dead. The rescue service refused to send a physician and instead asked the police to bring a physician to the village. This was a complicated administrative procedure: the mayor had to contact the prefecture, which asked the regional health authority for a physician. The authority, in turn, asked the police to pick up the designated physician.

"This is a lack of respect for the deceased and the family," said the mayor. She added that this order was a more general denunciation of the "catastrophic health situation" in this region.

No intervention in politics

"People have difficulty getting treatment, finding a physician and sometimes have to travel for miles. As a result, it is difficult to provide healthcare," explained Mrs. Dugelet. "In my community, there is great concern about this. Health is the most important issue in rural areas. I've been talking to politicians about this issue for years, but nothing is changing," she added.

What are the risks for people who don't follow this order? "What sanction should I impose on a person who dies at a forbidden time? It's really hilarious," the mayor summed up. The residents fully supported her approach. "The mayor has done very well", said an inhabitant, who amusedly remarked: "I never knew this side of her!"

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