France’s President Macron visits a hospital in Paris to hear health care workers demands

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French President Emmanuel Macron Credit: Twitter

France’s President Macron visits a hospital in Paris to hear health care workers demands

FRENCH doctors demanded more investment and a rethink of the country’s public health system from President Emmanuel Macron at a Paris hospital on Friday, after hospitals had become quickly overwhelmed by tens of thousands of coronavirus patients.

The President acknowledged mistakes in reforming the national health system, which has faced years of cost cuts, leaving medical facilities in one of the world’s richest countries short of staff, protective equipment and ventilators needed to fight the virus. As COVID led to several hospitals being completely overcrowded in as early as March, Macron had to deploy the armed forces to build the country’s first-ever peacetime field hospital.

However, the French hospital problems long predate the virus crisis, ER workers held strikes and protests last year demanding more hiring and funding after years of job losses.

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Macron’s government announced a plan last year to address the growing concerns, and injected new money when the virus hit, but Macron acknowledged Friday: “We undoubtedly made a mistake in the strategy.”

“It was a great strategy, but we should have done it 10 years ago,” he told frustrated staff at Pitié-Salpetrière Hospital.

Macron promised to launch a new investment plan while the virus crisis is still raging, without offering details. “Trust will only come if we move fast,” he said.

Macron met with an angry reception on a visit to the same hospital in February, as the president sought to show he was successfully managing the virus. Leading neurologist Dr. Frédéric Salachas confronted Macron to describe how the virus crisis — which was just barely beginning — had already revealed weaknesses in French hospitals caused by years of budget cuts.


“You can count on us,” Salachas told the president at the time. “But it remains to be seen whether we can count on you.”

The French government has said it will pay bonuses of 500-1,500 euros to all health workers and promised a special “medal of commitment” to all those on the Covid-19 front line, but hospital staff have warned they will not settle for consolation prizes.


Hospitals “don’t need medals, they need funding,” said the pressure group Collectif inter-hôpitaux on Thursday.

 




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