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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/2007-10-02_P...

by F.D.

“The hospital won’t get better if they axe jobs.”

Translated Saturday 6 October 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

Enquiry. Three trade unions — the CGT, the CFDT and SUD — fear that the public sector will be broken up.

Three trade union forces, the CGT, the CFDT and SUD at the Le Havre hospital complex are categorical: “It isn’t by axing jobs that the hospital will get any better.” In the opinion of Philipp De Corre, the local CGT leader, “The acceptable measures are the ideas of developing outpatient care, mixed wards, and downsizing the surgical ward. There is also a need for more beds in follow-up care to meet the needs in medium-term hospitalization. On the other hand, cutting back staff is absurd; it will necessarily affect the quality of care and will prevent any development of our activity.”

This diagnosis is shared by Pierre Cueuille, the local SUD leader, who points out that “with 100% activity-based accounting (to be introduced by January 2008), he hospital will have to increase the number of medical treatments administered by 20% if it is to get out of debt.” This is impossible with fewer staff, a freeze on investment and a competitive environment, with an extremely active private-sector hospital run by the Générale de santé group. Moreover, it presupposes attracting doctors to Le Havre, and without local and national political support, this is impossible. The Le Havre estuary reports worrying health indices, and the general death rate and the new-born child death rate both exceed the French national average.

“This is the social reality, at the public hospital we take the worst cases,” points out Liliane Dassis, a member of the CFDT trade union. “What’s more, for years the hospital administration has been unable to set up a reliable computer system, it’s grotesque, the encoding of the medical treatments administered is generally wrong,” she adds.

More than simple anecdotes, all of these malfunctions seem to point in the same direction: “I really believe that for the past ten to fifteen years, there has been a political intention to partially dismantle the public sector to the benefit of the private sector, particularly among local politicians,” Pierre Cueuille said, summing up the situation.

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