On the Picket Line

French public hospital workers protest government cutbacks

By Nat London
December 23, 2019

PARIS — Some 10,000 public hospital workers conducted a one-day strike and march here Nov. 14 to defend the country’s public hospitals. For the first time, members of all medical professions — from nursing assistants to doctors — acted together. Similar protests took place in many cities.

Budget cutting has created what many people call “medical deserts,” especially in rural areas, midwife Caroline Raquin told the Militant. She pointed to the example of the number of maternity centers that have been closed. “There were 1,200 such centers in 1970,” she said. “Now there are only 540.”

Hospitals in Paris and other large cities are beginning to be affected as well. Five- to seven-hour waiting time is now common in public hospital emergency rooms here, and there are two- to three-month delays to see a specialist. The cutbacks have made it clear the government favors private, for-profit clinics.

Over 1 million people work in public hospitals in France. A second day of demonstrations has been called for Dec. 17.