French hospital psychiatrists went on strike today, Tuesday, over what they say is a lack of state support for their profession. Unions representing them claim a lack of beds, regular closures of specialised centers due to lack of staff and difficult working conditions are leading to a breakdown of the entire system.
Four unions representing the workers are protesting outside the Ministry of Health in Paris.
Demonstrations have also been organised in other cities in front of regional health agencies (ARS) and hospitals.
The unions have condemned what they describe as the "abandonment of public psychiatry" in France, which they say is characterised by a lack of hospital beds and regular closures of medico-psychological centers (CMP).
This is linked to the shortage of doctors and nurses, which affects five out of six hospitals, according to an inter-union statement.
"We no longer have the capacity to treat patients as we would like," Dr. Norbert Skurnik, president of the the group of unions representing the profession (IDEPP), told the French news agency AFP.
He says that in the Paris region alone, "60,000 to 70,000 people, of whom at least 60 percent are mentally ill, are left to their own devices due to the lack of proper facilities".
This branch of medicine is also struggling to attract young doctors, he added.
To promote recruitment, he suggests an increase of "20 to 25 percent" in the salaries of hospital psychiatrists, in the form of "hardship" bonuses.
But the plan is considered insufficient by the profession.
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