Macron proposed new changes to overhaul emergency services in French hospitals

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French President Emmanuel Macron, together with his new Health Minister, Brigitte Bourguignon, has proposed changing the way emergency services in hospitals are run, one of the sore points of the country’s health system, and called for a stakeholder conference on health.

In France, the crisis in emergency services and hospitals is nothing new. However, the pandemic has seriously impacted the health and morale of healthcare workers battling relatively poor working conditions.

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More than 120 emergency services in France have been forced to close or reduce their capacity due to staff shortages, Samu-Urgences de France (SUdF), the union representing emergency service workers, has said.

With legislative elections taking place in less than two weeks, Macron, who spoke during a visit to the Cherbourg hospital on Tuesday (31 May), is proposing a one-month “flash information mission” on emergency services in hospitals to help facilitate access to urgent and unscheduled care in the country.

The mission, which will last until 28 June, will be entrusted to SUdF President François Braun, the head of emergency services at the Metz-Thionville regional hospital in northeastern France.

“At the crossroads of a highly solicited town medicine and a hospital caught between the reinforcement of programmed courses and the difficult return to normality after the crisis, the emergencies accumulate the difficulties of the system,” Health Minister Bourguignon’s office said.

Macron is promising caregivers at the Cherbourg hospital “a complete shift in logic” while acknowledging that this would not solve the “structural problem” of the caregivers’ shortage.

“From July, I would like to launch a conference of stakeholders on health as well as on education,” the president also told hospital staff, adding that he wants people working “on the ground” to be given more freedom when it comes to organising care because “the solutions are different depending on the areas”.

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