French doctors have marched in protest in Paris at their working conditions while slamming the government for its “empty promises” and saying “we don’t want your medals”.
This latest protest, which according to some unconfirmed reports involved about 200 people, took place in Paris in front of the Robert Debre hospital. Healthcare workers chanted slogans, held up banners and banged on pots and pans.
Cherine Benzouid, a paediatric cardiologist at the hospital, said: “Things have not changed. We are returning to the world before the crisis, only it’s worse. There are less and less beds. We must stop this. You’ve got to add beds, stop saving money with public hospitals, and reassess the lowest wages.”
She added: “We don’t want their medals, we are not heroes. We are workers, we want to work in good conditions. And our demands need to be heard: Stop taking beds away and hire to match the needs [of hospitals].”
Their rejection of medals is a reference to the fact that the French government is revamping an 1884 ‘medal of honour’ first used to reward those fighting a cholera epidemic so that it can be awarded to healthcare workers who fought in the coronavirus pandemic.
Sibeth Ndiaye, the French government’s spokesperson said on Wednesday: “This medal, which had been created during the cholera epidemic which struck our country in 1884 […] will reward those who were particularly devoted during periods of epidemic diseases. It may be awarded individually or collectively.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare workers were already asking for the government to listen to them more, and the crisis has reinforced their position, with them taking to the streets to make their voices heard.
The latest medics protest, which took place yesterday (THUR), follows one in Toulouse on 11th May, at the Purpan hospital, the first day of the end of lockdown in France.
‘Nikola Dobric’ shared footage of the protest in Toulouse, saying: “We denounce with one voice the 30 years of massacre of public hospitals as well as the calamitous management of this crisis by the Macron government.”
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