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Hospital tragedies ‘not typical’

The president has said it is wrong to generalise about hospitals based on recent incidents in the headlines.

President Sarkozy has accused the Opposition and certain medical unions of trying to score political points over recent high-profile “tragedies” linked to hospitals.

In a speech at the Elysée to hundreds of medical workers who were on duty on New Year’s Eve he referred to three incidents which have made headlines.

These were: the death of a heart attack victim after ambulance crews could not find an open intensive care bed, a child who died after the wrong medicine was injected and the escape from a Marseille hospital of a dangerous schizophrenia sufferer. The schizophrenic, who killed his grandmother’s partner with an axe in 2004, was found in Aix-en-Provence yesterday and taken back to hospital after a six-day search.

The president said he would personally ensure that appropriate action was taken should any blame or wrong procedures be highlighted by investigations into these incidents.

He added: “It seems to me it would be profoundly unjust if these tragedies were to cast discredit on our hospitals and their staff in general. It seems to me deeply inappropriate for these tragedies to be exploited in the name of mediocre controversies… our hospitals and their staff deserve more than that.”

However the president added reform of the hospital system, to be debated in parliament in coming weeks, was nonetheless “essential.” He said: “Doing nothing is not an option and it is not so much money that is the main issue as a need for better organisation and modernisation.”

Photo: Pasc Lem

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