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French villages desperate for doctors hire druid

media The French town of La Roche-Derrien ouest-france

Faced with a failure to attract doctors to their area, authorities in six Brittany villages have turned to a druid to provide patient care. The druid won't prescribe medicine. Instead he will offer such natural remedies as healing plants and stones to residents suffering from stress-related ailments.

The druid, being called a faith healer, has already given his first consultation on Friday out of an office in the town hall of La Roche-Derrien. According to its mayor, the town of some 1,000 people has repeatedly advertised for a general practitioner to serve the area but failed to attract a single application.

Enter Gwénael Trochet, an 'ancestral healer'. Mayor Jean-Louis Even says when Trochet, a druid, expressed interest, he and the the mayors of five other nearby villages were wary at first but eventually agreed to see him.

Even says they agreed to hire Trochet in the end, partly as a means to draw attention to the fact they couldn't attract doctors to their communities but also because they say there could be value in Trochet's services - for now at least. Authorities have given him a one-month trial contract, making an office available to him once a week. Patients will pay 25 euros for a consultation.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Trochet said he couldn't replace a doctor, but as a druid has ancestral knowledge of natural remedies, breathing exercises and the healing properties of plants and stones. He told the Telegraph he had cured about 100 people suffering from stress-related ailments since he started practising in 1993.

Meanwhile Even says the mayors haven't given up hope of soon finding qualified GPs who are willing to move to the region. He cites his town's beaches, cinema and skating rink as assets and says there are none of the traffic jams seen in France's major metropolitans.

For years the country's medical profession has been experiencing shortages in such pockets as Picardie, Haute-Normandie and Poitou-Charentes. Doctors’ unions refer to these places as "medical deserts", or places where there are fewer than 324 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants.

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