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France-Health

Striking French medics given 70 million euros to ease pain

Around 200 doctors demonstrated in Paris over their poor working conditions, 6 June 2019.
Around 200 doctors demonstrated in Paris over their poor working conditions, 6 June 2019. Aurore MESENGE / AFP

After three months of strike action, the French government has unveiled a 70-million euro aid package for emergency room staff to help improve their working conditions. Some medical staff have already dismissed the measures as "pure advertising".

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Health minister Agnès Buzyn said the government had taken into account the "delicate situation" that emergency room staff sometimes face when confronted with "violent and unruly patients".

Buzyn announced Friday that 70 million euros would be unblocked immediately at an official launch of a project to overhaul the health service.

The move came after three months of strike action by doctors and nurses at dozens of hospitals across the country. Emergency room staff complain of funding cuts, a government reduction in the number of beds and a serious lack of medical personnel, which they argue has brought France’s world-class health system to the brink of collapse.

The funding boost is intended to pay for risk bonuses, which means that from July, around 30,000 emergency room staff will receive an extra 100 euros to their wages at the end of each month. This move will put them on par with psychiatric nurses, who already receive a similar bonus.

A further 100 euros will also be awarded to nurses and care givers who agree to carry out medical tasks.

In addition, 15 million euros has also been earmarked for hospitals to recruit extra paramedical staff during the holiday season.

'First step'

Some medical staff, however, have dismissed the announcements as pure advertising.

Christophe Prudhomme, an emergency room doctor in Bobigny north of Paris, and a health representative for the left-wing CGT union said that while the announcements were "a first step", they are still insufficient.

"Most of the money being allocated towards bonuses falls far short of what was asked for," he said on BFM TV.

Nurses and doctors have called for a bonus package of 300 euros.

Health minister Buzyn is due to receive proposals on how to move forward from the new mission to overhaul the health service in the coming days.

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