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Staff shortage causes severe ‘medical deserts’ in France

France is facing an increasing number of “medical deserts”, which are areas with insufficient numbers of medical staff in terms of the population living there. These difficulties include access to emergency services.

In 2022, around 12 percent of the French population is living in a “medical desert”.

“If we can find temporary doctors, we will be able to put two doctors on the shift, but if we don’t, we won’t be in the capacity to find two doctors simultaneously,” head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Laval Hospital, Anthony Millet said.

He added that hospitals in the town of Laval, northwest France, are not able complete shifts and must close or reduce their emergency service functioning. In March 2022, the emergency service was not closed but it wasn’t open to everyone either, as they have to regulate admissions.

It is a ‘hospital battle’ for medical staff workers

Despite an unprecedented pay increase for medical staff, hospitals in France are still not able to attract the neccessary number of doctors and nurses.

“It’s an emergency right now,” the head of the health workers’ union FO-Santé said.

“We’re looking for an emergency doctor, general practitioners, foreign doctors, former residents who have been in this hospital before. We don’t hesitate to call to try to find them, because we have to find doctors and we have to be more attractive than the others, it’s a kind of hospital battle,” Mr Millet stated.

The situation of hospitals in France was a sticking point in the French Presidential elections. The debate continues to be at the centre of the discussion for the key legislative elections taking place on June 12.

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