‘Exhausted’ French healthcare workers walk out, demanding better working conditions and more pay

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have taken to the streets across France, pressuring Macron’s government to improve hospital funding, hire more personnel, and provide better pay.

On Thursday, French healthcare workers gathered in Paris, Nice, and Nantes, among other cities, to share their grievances as part of a nationwide protest planned by trade unions. 

Protesters, many dressed in scrubs and surgical masks, highlighted the plight of medics and the pressures the Covid pandemic was putting on the French health service. Banners read “Hire more. Train more. We’re exhausted.”

In Nice, protesters gathered in front of a post office to send letters to French President Emmanuel Macron, demanding the government provide more human and financial resources for public hospitals.

One healthcare worker said, “We’ve been fighting for years and we’re still not listened to. There is a shortage of 200,000 beds in nursing homes and 100,000 beds in hospitals. We no longer do quality work. This ministry is out of touch. We can’t take it anymore.” 


Other protestors emphasized the impact of Covid-19 on the health service, slamming the government for its management of the pandemic. A nurse commented, “The government’s measures are ridiculous. A curfew from 9pm to 6am is useless. People don’t know it, but what happens in hospitals – it’s terrible.” 


The protests come one day after Macron introduced a 9pm-to-6am curfew on residents of several French cities, including Paris, Lille, Grenoble, and Lyon. The restriction will be effective from Saturday and will last for four weeks. 

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File photo © REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Public health state of emergency declared in France over Covid, as Macron confirms city curfews

The health situation is becoming very concerning across the country. In Paris, nearly half of all intensive-care beds are occupied with Covid patients. Aurélien Rousseau, director of the regional health authority for Paris, told France Inter radio that hospitals in the capital were canceling a third of non-Covid operations. 

On Wednesday, the French health service recorded 22,591 new cases and 104 new deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has registered 779,063 infections and 33,037 fatalities.

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