The ongoing Coronavirus health crisis facing France is leading to unprecedented political change. Large sections of society are on the march: taking charge of their own professions themselves and setting up numerous support structures and initiatives. And as François Bonnet argues in this op-ed article, this sudden land grab of some very political arenas by new groups has left society's traditional institutions and political forces flat-footed.
Recorded deaths in France from the Covid-19 coronavirus by Saturday evening had risen to 562, with 6,172 people receiving hospital treatment for the infection, a quarter of who are in intensive care, according to official figures. But no-one doubts this is still a statistical calm before the epidemic engulfs France’s healthcare system, a wave forecast to reach a peak in early April. Mediapart has been talking to doctors and nurses around France about how they are preparing for a crisis many predict will be so great that choices will have to be made about which patients are admitted for treatment – as is already happening in the currently worst-hit region of Alsace.
In an open letter published in the press, 660 French public hospital doctors have threatened to resign unless the health ministry opens urgent talks to redress funding shortfalls that have caused severe disruption to services and the departure of staff towards the private sector.
French public hospital workers held protest marches in Paris and other cities across the country on Thursday over pay, working conditions and chronic underfunding of services which have led to a shortage of beds and vital equipment, and an exodus of staff towards the private sector.
French hospitals are witnessing an unprecedented nationwide strike movement by paramedical personnel in Accident and Emergency (A&E) services in protest over under-staffing, patient over-crowding, inadequate equipment and poor wages. Despite short-term financial measures announced by the government in June to defuse the situation, the movement has snowballed from 60 hospitals in March to more than 200 this month, when A&E doctors announced they too may now take strike action over what they called “catastrophic” working conditions. Rouguyata Sall reports on the deepening crisis and talks to members of Inter-Urgences, the collective leading the strike movement.
Health minister Marisol Touraine said death toll for 2016/2017 flu season set to be 'high' with unusually large number of people 'seriously ill'.
Seventeen hospitals across France will take part in a 36-month trial whereby expectant mothers can earn 300 euros in shop vouchers if they give up smoking.
In September 2013 a senior doctor at a hospital in Brittany in western France blew the whistle on his hospital's violation of medical rules in allowing a private company access to named patient records. In January 2014 a consultant at the main Strasbourg hospital in the east of the country revealed to Mediapart that private patients were being given MRI scans at his hospital ahead of stroke victims in need of urgent assessment. Mediapart recently went back to see whether these problems in France's health service were being addressed, only to find that the doctors in question have been either fired or sidelined. Meanwhile the issues they brought to light have not been addressed; if anything, they have got worse. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports.
The French healthcare system enjoys a reputation as one of the most comprehensive and effective worldwide, and was ranked as the overall best in an international survey by the World Health Organization in 2000. But all that came at a price which is now the target of severe cost-cutting drives. The country's debt-ridden hospitals, once an example of excellence, are short of basic supplies of sheets, blankets, bed pads, syringes, bottled water and nurses' uniforms, among other things. "What was working fine before has since turned into a huge mess," comments a senior doctor at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. Noémie Rousseau reports.