Drained by COVID fight, some French ICU nurses strike for better pay

Nurses of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on strike gather in front of the Robert Ballanger hospital in Aulnay-sous-Bois near Paris during a national strike to demand better recognition of their work and salary increases amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, May 11, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, France (Reuters) - Intensive care medical staff exhausted by the battle against COVID-19 went on strike in some French hospitals on Tuesday to demand better pay and working conditions.

The hard-left CGT trade union said the coronavirus crisis had underlined the need to increase the number of nurses and intensive care beds in public hospitals, as well as improve salary terms.

At the Robert Ballanger hospital in Aulnay-sous-Bois outside Paris, where all 16 available critical care beds are full - nearly all with COVID-19 patients - nurses worked through their strike to ensure life-saving care was maintained.

"We've been fighting for years for this pay increase," said nurse Aurelie Lesueur, the words 'On strike - Burnout' scrawled on the back of her medical scrubs.

Lesueur and her colleagues said the specific skills of an ICU nurse should be recognised, as they were for other roles such as in pediatrics and anaesthesiology, and reflected in pay packets.

A year on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 had taken a mental and physical toll, Lesueur said. Some colleagues had quit and others were on sick leave. Staff shortages meant two beds in her ward were closed, the nurse added.

As France slowly unwinds a third national lockdown, pressure remains acute on hospitals. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care this week fell back below 5,000, the threshold for full saturation.

A protest outside the Health Ministry is planned later on Tuesday.

"We're exhausted," said nurse Celia Leger. "We want recognition for the particular care we provide."

(Reporting by Clotaire Achi; Editing by Richard Lough and Mike Collett-White)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Next In World

Weaknesses in US healthcare system leaves ethnic minorities, essential workers exposed, says report
Thousands protest against Spain's possible pardons for jailed Catalan leaders
Dutch political gridlock deepens as key lawmaker quits Christian Democrat party
Ambush in northern Ivory Coast kills three soldiers
Swiss voters look set to reject law to help cut carbon emissions
Analysis-G7’s billion vaccine plan counts some past pledges, limiting impact
S.Africa's President Ramaphosa urges G7 nations to plug COVID-19 funding gap
Jordan ex-royal court chief faces trial over alleged monarchy plot
Putin says Russia would accept conditional handover of cyber criminals to U.S.
France's Macron spars with UK's Johnson over Brexit geography

Stories You'll Enjoy