“I no longer want to make choices, for lack of beds”

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In the demonstration of the nursing staff, this Thursday in Paris.

In the demonstration of the nursing staff, this Thursday in Paris.

In the midst of the “second wave” of Covid, doctors, nurses and members of the medico-social sector marched in Paris this Thursday to demand hiring and upgrading.

“If we are in crisis it is not because there are too many patients. It is because there are not enough caregivers and not enough beds ” : at the microphone, Christophe Prudhomme almost lost his voice in the midst of the demonstrators gathered at Place Vauban in Paris at the call of the nursing unions. On the program of the intervention of the spokesperson for the association of emergency physicians and CGT delegate, the main demands of nursing staff since the start of the covid epidemic: massive and immediate hiring, revaluation of salaries and improvement of working conditions. work of all staff. For Marie-Pierre M., a young nurse and member of the Inter-emergency Collective, we must stop talking about the “vocation” of caregivers, whose working conditions are deteriorating. “I hate this notion of vocation because it puts us in a position in which we are able to accept everything. Me, I don’t have a vocation, I did this job like that, I found it interesting and I continued ”, explains the young woman dressed in a light blue overcoat ready to parade to the Ministry of Health. Before adding: “It’s a profession for which I trained, I learned and I developed skills, but skills are remunerated, they are valued and they are recognized and today is not the case at all . “

Jennifer quit her retirement home job after just five months. Burn out. “I was all alone for 80 people, we should have been two normally. It was clearly my fault according to the management ”, says the young woman of 27 who in the meantime has found a job in a laboratory. At his side, Charline, one year his junior. A nurse in Meaux, she confides that she has also worked in very complex situations since the start of the coronavirus epidemic: “It was a hassle we had to dress with garbage bags, we did as we could, and since this month we no longer even have a mask”. Graduated for five years, Charline does not think she will do this job all her life: “It’s my passion, but I’m struggling to find the motivation.” A few meters away, Emmanuel D. nurse at the Aurillac hospital center (Cantal), and staff representative. If he doesn’t feel “not yet” disgusted by his job, he has noticed since the start of his career an evolution “Which is not going in the right direction”. “We have more problems than there are in Paris, for 150,000 people we only had one neurologist, not to mention the other medical specialties which are totally affected. Doctors choose to go to mainland France and lost territories like ours, we are completely abandoned. We don’t even have entire departments that have closed, it’s terrible ”, laments the 47-year-old man.

“Names and faces” behind the numbers of the epidemic

For the emergency physician Christophe Prudhomme, the problem does not come from the fact that there is a lack of young people to work in the medical sector, it is the State which is not doing its job. “Last year there were 100,000 applications for enrollment in nursing schools for 30,000 places so there is no vocation crisis but a refusal of degraded working conditions”, he explains. But this weighs on the sector: “There are 150,000 nurses who no longer use their diploma, not counting the young people who enter schools and who drop out of studies after a year. During the first internship when they see their future working conditions, they cannot imagine working in this environment for twenty-five or forty years. “ Communist deputy for Seine-Saint-Denis Stéphane Peu confirms that in his department there are three times fewer intensive care beds per inhabitant than in Hauts-de-Seine or in Val-de-Marne. “This is the department that had the highest mortality rate linked to covid, and that, seven months later, there is not an additional resuscitation bed”, gets carried away the parliamentarian.

Because behind the structural demands, it is the management of the pandemic by the authorities which is singled out by the demonstrators. A nurse since 1984 at the AP-HP, Thierry regrets that the first wave of covid-19 was not used as an example for the management of new cases. “What you have to understand is that during the first wave, for lack of beds, we had to make choices except that these choices for the government are numbers. But for us these numbers are names, faces, scenes and life stories and I don’t want that to happen again ”, confides the nurse.

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