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French government unlocks €70 million in emergency room funding

Aurore Mesenge, AFP | French emergency room workers strike in front of the Health Ministry in Paris on June 11, 2019

France announced on Friday that it would unlock an additional €70 million to fund hospitals through the summer, three months after emergency room workers went on strike to protest against a lack of staffing and resources.

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Emergency room workers have complained that a series of closures and budget cuts in recent years have pushed the country’s hospitals to an “unprecedented breaking point”. They are demanding the government create 10,000 new jobs and increase salaries by €300 per month to help ease the strain.

Following a meeting with representatives of the strike on Friday, the health ministry announced that it would release the funds, €55 million of which would be used to pay a monthly bonus of €100 to “all emergency room personnel (excepting doctors),” starting in July.

Overall, the bonus is expected to benefit around 30,000 people. An additional monthly bonus of €100 will also be given to nurses and orderlies who perform select medical acts sanctioned by a new health reform bill that was passed in the senate on Tuesday.

‘A drop in the bucket’

The remaining €15 million will be used to allow emergency rooms to “reinforce their paramedical staff during the summer period and maintain a maximum number of beds”, the health ministry said in a statement.

But some striking emergency room workers were unimpressed by Friday’s announcement, arguing it did not go far enough.

“€15 million for 600 emergency rooms is just a drop in the bucket,” Patrick Bourdillion, of the CGT Health union, told AFP.

The ongoing strikes began in mid-March and have since spread to 95 emergency rooms across the country.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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