'We need more staff': unions slam €70m A&E worker fund

Additional government money to pay bonuses and overtime to stretched emergency department workers

An extra €70million has been made available to pay staff in stretched A&E departments in a bid to break the deadlock with unions following months of strikes.

Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said that €55million will pay for a monthly 'prime individuelle de risque' (individual risk bonus) of €118 euros from Thursday, July 1, that will be paid to some 30,000 A&E staff except doctors.

The payment is to recognise the difficulties of working with patients who can sometimes be rude, aggressive or even violent, she said.

Another €100 bonus will be paid to nurses and carers who take on extra tasks.

The remaining €15million will be used to hire extra staff in A&E services which find themselves so short-handed during the summer months.

The cash goes alongside an increase in permitted overtime, which rises to 20 hours a month.

Striking A&E staff, who had been demanding an extra €300 a month, were initially unimpressed with the offer.

"€15 million over 600 A&E departments is a drop in the ocean," Patrick Bourdillon of union CGT Sante, said.

Dr Christophe Prudhomme, from Emergency Doctors' union the Association des Médecins Urgentistes de France (AMUF) agreed. "This money doesn't correspond to the gravity of the situation at all. It's a long way from €300 per month we want for A&E staff, who are among the worse paid in Europe.

"Doctors are generally paid enough, but nurses and auxiliaries are particularly badly paid."

He said the number of patients attending A&E departments has doubled in the past 20 years, while staff numbers have been cut.

"We need more staff, but there is also a lack of beds so patients remain on stretchers in A&E instead of being admitted to wards and this increased the workload of A&E staff.”

He said 100,000 beds have been closed over the last 20 years but the population has expanded.

"What Thatcher did to the NHS, Macron is now doing to the French Health Service. For him, it's just another market, another source of profit.

"He doesn't care about people, or about the quality of care. That's what has makes people angry, so the strikes are going to continue. We need a Marshall Plan for our hospitals."

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