Crisis in the hospital: “The whole health system needs a horse remedy”

Frédéric Valletoux, the president of the Hospital Federation of France, confirms a critical situation in public establishments and considers that the ill-being of nurses and other caregivers is only one of the symptoms of a hospital system which requires “a horse remedy ”.

What are the consequences of the shortage of manpower in the hospital?

FRÉDÉRIC VALLETOUX. The strain on the workforce affects all professions in the hospital, including non-medical jobs. This leads to bed closures in greater proportions than before the health crisis. We are probably not at 20% as the report by Jean-François Delfraissy published this Wednesday indicates, but rather between 5 and 10%, which would represent the double of 2019. It is linked to the recruitment difficulties, absenteeism, people who let go, even if there is no big wave of people leaving the hospital. One or two fewer people is enough to make working in a department uncomfortable. Everything makes us think that the situation is worse than before the crisis.

Does the lack of caregivers threaten the quality of care?

I think not. The hospital is still able to cope under these conditions. We must not let the population think that the hospital staff would no longer do their job. Anyone who goes to the emergency room will continue to be cared for and receive the best care. But we can see that the price to pay is increasingly high for organizations that have been harmed for two years. I have resumed a tour of hospitals, large, small, and medium, and it is always the same speech that comes up, with a deep hope that the post-epidemic does not look like the front and that there is real reforms. We must tackle the difficulties of the system rather than endlessly block it, as has been the case for the past 15 years.

Is the Health Segur not a sufficient answer?

The Ségur de la santé (the extensive consultation of all stakeholders in the sector, in 2020, in order to improve the healthcare system) was a historic meeting, unprecedented, where the government put 8 billion euros on the table to increase salaries. This is an important element, but the other question asked by hospital workers is: “What are we used for, what is our role?” They no longer want to be tossed about by drastic financial regulation, by the city medicine crisis which is affecting the hospital, by a bureaucracy which is only increasing. The whole health system needs a horse remedy.