French doctors have given a call to intensify the hospital emergency strikes that have been on for the past 10 months to demand higher wages, better work conditions and increased funding for hospitals. Last week, more than 1,000 doctors threatened to resign, protesting against the government’s insensitivity towards the strike and the plight of the hospitals in the country. Doctors have also called for a countrywide mobilization on February 14.
The staff in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments of around 250 hospitals in France began their strike in the spring of 2019. The government had intervened in September 2019 and promised investments worth EUR 750 million, which would lead to an increase in the salary of the emergency staff by EUR 100. But the workers have rejected the offer as insufficient, and are demanding an increase of EUR 300 per month. The striking workers also pressed for at least 10,000 fresh recruitments to meet the staff shortage, and to stop the cuts in hospital beds and other medical facilities. They thus decided to continue the strike.
In a mass petition on January 14, around 1,200 practitioners warned the French minister of health, Agnes Buzyn, that they would resign unless the government immediately makes genuine efforts to resolve the crisis.
“The deterioration in the working conditions of professionals is such that it calls into question the quality of care and threatens patient safety. We need a plan with a national component and a regional component. Our health system, like our research, is losing ground in international rankings. The hospital must be reformed but there is no great reform possible without means,” the doctors said in the petition.
Local.fr reported that 4,894 nurses have also decided to resign in solidarity with the protests.
Professor Julien Taieb, one of the national coordinators of the inter-hospital group Collectif inter-hôpitaux, told Radio France Internationale that French hospitals are still better than the hospital services in many other European countries, especially the UK. But day by day, the conditions are getting worse due to the lack of adequate investment and insufficient workforce in the sector.