Hospitals in a growing number of areas in France are ”seeing their functioning decrease due to a lack of staff”, an association that represents small towns has warned.
The Association des petites villes de France (APVF) called on the new Health Minister Brigitte Bourgignon to acknowledge the "very worrying situation of emergency services in hospitals".
The APVF cited Sarlat (Dordogne), Jonzac (Charente-Maritime), Guingamp (Côtes-d'Armor) and Chinon (Indre-et-Loire) among small-town hospitals that are having to close from time to time in recent weeks, saying activity at the latter is "basically suspended".
According to the Samu-Urgences de France, at least 120 hospitals are facing difficulties of operation due to a lack of staff.
Almost half have had to close their emergency service department at least partially, due to a lack of staff, while around a dozen sies have had to send emergency patients elsewhere due to the same issue.
Manon Grandgirard, a nurse at one small hospital, in Arcachon (Gironde), said that the emergency department is under pressure “pretty much every day…, especially in summer and big [holiday] weekends”, and sees 100 patients per day on average.
FranceInfo reported that patients were lining the corridors and waiting for a long time to be seen. Ms Grandgirard continued: “We deal with patients in order of severity. we try to take the most urgent patients quickly and take care of everyone. After that, we have to do a triage system.”
The APVF said: "Our hospital system has been suffering for years from financial management of our health system, with no regard for patients and the quality of care.
“Questions such as the obligation of permanent care for private doctors and the regulation of doctor’s employment must now be asked without taboo.”
The association also referred to the problem of ‘medical desertification’, in which large areas of France have little to no medical provision due to location and lack of doctors.
Ms Bourguignon has now promised to hold a meeting with hospital workers to decide on measures to take “to face up to the [coming] summer with a lack of staff”.