ELEVEN-DAY DOCTORS STRIKE ENDS IN TAHITI

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Nov. 23) – A settlement signed at 2 a.m. Friday ended an 11-day strike by French Polynesia hospital doctors, who claimed satisfaction for a bigger hospital budget, while management agreed to give thought to simplifying hospital staff contracts.

"Everyone wanted to end this strike," Dr. Lionel Bessout, head of the hospital doctors' union, said Friday morning as strikers took down their tent headquarters in front of the Territorial Hospital Center in the Mamao section of Papeete.

An agreement by French Polynesia's social security and welfare fund to increase the hospital budget for next year was cited as the deciding factor in ending the strike.

Both sides signed the compromise settlement in the presence of French Polynesia Public Health Minister Charles Tetaria.

"We wanted to finish the year 2007 without a deficit, that is to say without carrying over expenses into the next year," Dr. Bessout said. "And the CPS (Caisse de prévoyance sociale) has been very supportive in this regard," he added.

Dr. Bessout said he hoped the new budget could be applied to the hospital's pediatrics care and emergency neurovascular emergencies and provides more security for patients.

As for the status of hospital staff that poses a problem for recruitment, according to the union, that situation should improve by the time the new general hospital under construction opens near the end of next year, the union leader said.

"On this point, we had to make concessions," he continued. Hospital staff contracts are expected to undergo an audit in coming months, which will clarify the program of these hirings, which sometimes can take up to several months, Dr. Bessout said. "The (Temaru government's) Civil Service Minister seems to want to improve things."

Dominique Delpech, the French Polynesia Hospital Center director, also expressed satisfaction with the end of the strike. Despite finding itself in a difficult situation, the CPS "made an effort to give us more resources than what was projected for 2008", he said.

However, he added that the strike created a bit of a difficult period ahead for the hospital. "We recorded during the 11-day strike a loss of revenue that we will have to make up."

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