French emergency hospital staff strike intensifies

The strike among emergency workers is increasing, with grievances including a lack of staff and budget

Emergency hospital staff in France are continuing to strike, with almost half of services affected five months in to the movement.

Of 474 services in France, 237 are currently affected by the strike.

Staff say that there is a lack of personnel, with many people leaving but not being replaced; as well as a lack of resources; too many patients, and unworkable, too-busy timetables.

Some hospitals have even called on retired doctors to come back to work, to help shore up the emergency team.

Paramedics on strike are now calling on more doctors to join their ranks.

One hospital, in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin, Grand Est) has seen its emergency doctor numbers drop from 24 to just around a dozen, in just one year. It has asked for support from other hospitals in the region.

Strike banners at the hospital have messages including: “SOS, Emergency [care] in distress”; “Exhausted Carers”, and one sign in a waiting room saying: “You are not having to wait because we are on strike; we are on strike because you are having to wait.”

Dr Sophie Gaugler, an emergency doctor who has worked at the hospital for just one year and is already planning to leave, told news network FranceInfo: “Today we are putting patients in danger because there are no longer enough of us to take care of them.”

Abdel Dougha, representative of the strike collective Inter-Urgences, said: “The movement is continuing. We are widening the movement. We have doubled the number of services on strike in two months.”

Health minister Agnès Buzyn announced new measures designed to help ease the problem this week, but Inter-Urgences said it continued to "lament the impasse over wage increases for carers", and said: "If we do not increase the overall hospital budget, it will not work."

It added: "The time required to implement reforms in the medium and long term is not compatible with the real suffering of carers on the ground."

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