A few thousand caregivers have been suspended for several months due to a refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Their reinstatement, or not, must be decided in the coming weeks.
1,050 nurses are currently suspended from their duties because of their refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, out of 650,000 nurses in all in France, according to data from the National Order of Nurses. The French Hospital Federation (FHF) figures in its sector the number of caregivers suspended at 4,000 “out of a total of 1.2 million agents”.
But the current staffing crisis in hospitals raises the question of their reintegration, while several departments are sounding the alarm about the lack of caregivers.
“It is a sidelining of health professionals at a time when we need them”, underlines to BFMTV Philippe Rudyard Bessis, lawyer for several suspended caregivers. “If there are people who don’t want to get vaccinated, they don’t get vaccinated.”
Forty Republican deputies called in early November for the reinstatement of these caregivers. “This suspension no longer makes sense and contributes to the crisis in our hospitals”, wrote then the deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes Eric Ciotti.
“There is an ethical problem”
This shelving concerns “very few doctors”, and a minimal part of nurses, reminded the Minister of Health Francois Braun on Sunday to the RTL-LCI-Le Figaro Grand Jury. He felt that their reinstatement would have little impact on the current problem of the shortage of caregivers.
For him, two points oppose this reinstatement. On the one hand, “do we accept that people who are not sufficiently protected are close to the most fragile people?”, he wondered, recalling that “we are still dying from the Covid in France all days”.
And moreover, “there is an ethical problem”, he added, in particular in relation to the caregivers who played the game at the height of the Covid crisis and who “held the line”.
“This concerns a few thousand nurses out of the 700,000 who are in practice. Getting vaccinated to protect these fragile patients is a moral and ethical imperative”, abounded Monday on FranceInfo Thierry Amouroux, spokesperson for the National Union of Professionals nurses, adding that a “caregiver hostile to vaccination, it is for us a casting error. It is better that they convert to other professions”.
“Fire us! Leave us the possibility of claiming unemployment”
The suspended carers are waiting for a decision concerning them, because they are currently in an unstable situation: they no longer receive a salary but are not officially dismissed, and therefore cannot claim unemployment. . In November 2021, Rue89 already pointed to an “administrative error” for these professionals, obliged to present a complete vaccination plan to work since last fall.
“Failing to have been vaccinated in time, employees or public officials may be suspended, without remuneration”, writes the official public service website, adding further that a “dismissal in the event of lack of vaccination at Covid not possible.”
“If they don’t want to reinstate us, okay, but why play this game? Fire us! Let us have the possibility of being able to claim unemployment”, deplores on BFMTV a nurse who explains having to work in a way that is not declared “until a decision is made”.
The Minister of Health explained that he had seized the High Authority for Health (HAS) and the National Consultative Ethics Committee to take a decision on the reinstatement, or not, of these caregivers. “I will make my decision once I have these two opinions”, that is to say at the beginning of the year, he declared. In an opinion of July 22, 2022, the HAS had come out in favor of maintaining the vaccination obligation for caregivers.
Source: BFM TV