French health professionals strike against staff shortage

Unions claim workers under tremendous personal strain as government ignores demands of additional recruitment, salary hikes

Shweta Desai  | 07.06.2022 - Update : 08.06.2022
French health professionals strike against staff shortage File Photo


Health professionals at public hospitals and care centers throughout France stopped work on Tuesday in protest against unmet demands on staff recruitment and shortage of resources.

Nine health workers organizations joined the strike to raise an alarm about what they say mistreatment of public hospitals and elderly care centers.

“COVID-19 has come and gone, as have the promises. And the horizon appears darker than ever," a statement from the unions said.

Access to primary care is getting increasingly complicated and the hospital no longer fulfills its role as a public service of last resort due to the closure of emergency services, operating rooms, and delays in health care due to lack of personnel, according to the statement.

It added that the situation has exasperated the existing staff who are “angry and tired as they can no longer fulfill their role of providing proper care to the population despite professional constraints that affect their health and their private lives."

Around 3,000 doctors, healthcare workers, nurses, and general staff employees have been suspended from services since last year for their refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Despite staff shortage and claims that reinstating them would resolve the crisis, President Emmanuel Macron last week reaffirmed his refusal to "reintegrate unvaccinated caregivers.”

In recent years, the shortage of health professionals has become extreme in France leading to the closure of around 20% of beds in over 100 hospitals and emergency services in nearly 80 hospitals.

Last year, 1,300 nursing students recruited during the pandemic resigned due to fatigue and exhaustion.

The professionals have demanded “real measures that guarantee access, proximity and optimal care in terms of quality and safety of care for everyone everywhere.”

These include immediate recruitment of personnel such as stretcher-bearers, couriers, workers, logisticians, and secretaries such that caregivers can focus on their jobs, multi-disciplinary training, increase in the general salary, and stopping all the closures of establishments, services, and beds, and reopen beds.

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