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Hospitals in France ‘paralysed’ by non-vaccinated, says leading medic

The head of the emergency doctors’ association has called the issue a ‘problem of civic duty,’ saying he is in favour of mandatory jabs to avoid more lockdowns and closures

A road sign in France that reads ‘Hôpital’

Hospitals are becoming ‘paralysed’ by new Covid patients, most of whom are not vaccinated, a leading doctor has warned, also calling for total reform of the system and higher salaries Pic: ricochet64 / Shutterstock

Hospitals in France are “close to paralysis” due to an onslaught of new Covid admissions, 80% of which are of non-vaccinated patients, a leading emergency doctor has warned.

Dr Patrick Pelloux, president of emergency medicine group l'Association des médecins urgentistes de France has said he is in favour of mandatory vaccination and of vaccinating children.

In an interview with FranceInfo, he said: “Hospitals are not doing well. What is happening should make everyone stop and ask questions. We are facing a new battle with this horrendous pandemic, with a new wave, the fifth [for the time-being most cases in France are still identified as being the Delta variant].

“We know that the sixth wave will arrive with the Omicron variant. It is in France. We are going to see a rise in the number of intensive care admissions; that is clear.

“The problem is with the non-vaccinated patients. The health system is being paralysed because we have to care for so many people in intensive care.

“What is happening is that vaccinated people with other illnesses are seeing their operations postponed. This is a problem of civic duty, because 80% of the patients in intensive care are non-vaccinated. The remaining 20% are very specific patients with suppressed immune systems.

Read more: Hospital operations postponed as more ‘plans blancs’ launch in France

“On Friday, a man had a heart attack but we couldn’t put him in cardiology in Paris because we had closed cardiology beds to take on unvaccinated Covid patients. I am for mandatory vaccination and hospitals must be given the means to function.”

Health pass extension and more vaccination

Dr Pelloux said that he was in favour of the health pass being used in workplaces and universities and that the vaccines must be used to avoid the saturation of hospitals which could otherwise lead to more lockdowns and closures.

He said: “We are lucky to have this vaccine, and people now have the complacency of the rich because there are countries where there is no vaccine.

“If Omicron ever becomes dominant, the hospitals will be saturated. What will we do then? Lockdown, close cultural venues, shut all the restaurants? We can't do that; now we have the vaccine. Last year we didn't have it; this year we have it, so we have to take advantage of it.”

Experts have predicted that the Omicron variant is likely to become dominant in France by early 2022.

Read more: France’s Omicron case numbers ‘probably hugely underestimated’

‘More hospital reform needed’

Dr Pelloux also said that France needs to do more to support its hospitals, and raise salaries for hospital workers as part of a wider overhaul of the system. 

He said that the recent Segur healthcare reform had failed, and that doubling overtime pay (this measure started yesterday, December 20) did not go far enough.

He said: “The government is bailing out to prevent the ship from sinking completely…But we need to increase salaries. The increase in overtime was made because the government realises that the job must be made attractive. 

“But the Segur increases of €190 [a month] are not enough. The objective should be to increase by €1,000. At some point, there is a political choice to be made. We have to increase staff salaries and change the way hospitals are managed.”

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Why Omicron could be good news: French experts give views

Where and how can I take a Covid self-test before Christmas in France?

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