These are figures that will not reassure the future Minister of Health. All hospitals (or almost) have had difficulty recruiting, while many positions are already vacant, according to a survey by the French Hospital Federation (FHF) carried out in April and May 2022.
Almost all (99%) of establishments are experiencing recruitment difficulties, either permanently or occasionally, according to feedback from more than 400 establishments (hospitals, nursing homes, etc.)
Boom in medical interim bills
The consequence: “the increase in caregiver fatigue (90% of establishments)”, the “increase in the use of overtime and the use of temporary workers (67% of establishments)”.
This last option is one of the paradoxes that illustrates that the system is exhausted. Unable to attract employees on permanent contracts, establishments have recourse to staff who charge high prices for vacations. They work alongside full-time employees who earn much much less than their one-night colleagues. This is not an incentive to stay in hospital … and further strains the budget of establishments.
Olivier Véran, when he was deputy then Minister of Health, had tried to put an end to this system by capping the guards at 1170 euros gross. He had to back down before the revolt of the interim world when the law – carried by the LREM deputy Stéphanie Rist – was promulgated in October 2021. Faced with tensions over the workforce, hospitals were forced to comply with the law of supply and demand…and pay the guards way beyond that.
Finally, for lack of arms, hospitals have no other option than to close beds temporarily (57% of hospital centers, and even more the CHUs (85% of them), according to the FHF.
Desperately looking for nurses…
Finding nurses remains the number one priority for hospitals and establishments for the elderly (74% of hospital centres, 55% of university hospital centers and 41% of nursing homes). In nursing homes, the need for nursing assistants is also glaring (first priority for 53% of establishments). With a black point: the night, which remains the most complex period to organize for establishments.
…but also surgeons and geriatricians
Another specialty in limbo: geriatrics concentrates the difficulties of recruitment with, as the most complex profile to recruit, night nurses. In hospitals, significant difficulties are also identified in terms of surgery and the operating theatre. The centers are struggling with day-to-day care: medicine, emergency, psychiatry.
Absenteeism on the rise
In 2021, average absenteeism, at 9.9%, is up by one point compared to 2019 (reference year before the crisis). It averaged 7.4% in 2012.
Reintegrate unvaccinated caregivers?
Reintegrating unvaccinated caregivers would not provide an influx of labor, notes the FHF.
“There is no pool of professionals to look for among the agents suspended for non-vaccination. The number of suspended professionals was divided by 4 between September 15, 2021 (implementation of the vaccination obligation) and the spring of 2022. It now represents only 0.3% of the total of establishment agents, i.e. approximately 4,000 to 5,000 professionals in all trades, caregivers and non-caregivers, out of 1.2 million agents in the public hospital service”, observes the study.