Thousands of workers employed across France in hospitals, care homes and health centres have been suspended for failing to comply with rules requiring Covid-19 vaccinations.
“Some 3,000 suspensions were notified yesterday to employees at health centres and clinics who have not yet been vaccinated,” the health minister, Olivier Veran, told French radio, with those affected reportedly missing out on pay.
According to local newspaper Nice Matin, nearly 450 health workers have been suspended in just one hospital in Nice – about one in 16 members of staff.
Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, the main French hospital group, said on Thursday that 340 workers had been suspended.
Le Monde reported that there were 100 suspensions in Perpignan, 76 suspensions at the Brest University Hospital, 54 in hospitals in Champagne-Sud (Troyes), 40 in Cahors, 37 in Saint-Nazaire, 26 in Angers, 40 in Rouen, 30 in Pau and Alès, and 20 in Angoulême.
Thierry Paysant, a security worker and firefighter at the Pasteur hospital, and Christophe, a carer at the same hospital, sit in front of their tents near the Abbaye Saint-Pons in Nice during a hunger strike to protest against France’s restrictions, including compulsory health passes
A medical worker holds a placard during a protest outside the health ministry in Paris on Tuesday against a law requiring them to get vaccinated
Emmanuel Macron announced in July that a health pass would be required for entry to restaurants, gyms and museums, and jabs would become mandatory for health workers.
The order has massively increased jab take-up in France, where vaccine hesitancy has historically been higher than elsewhere in Europe.
The vaccine mandate for paramedics and staff in hospitals and care homes took effect on Wednesday.
Mr Veran denied the new rule had caused disruption to the health sector. “It hasn’t been chaos; far from it,” he said, adding that “continuity of care has been ensured”.
There have been isolated cases where care has been affected, such as the use of an MRI scanner in one location, but most of the suspended staff work in support roles rather than on the front line.
“Most of the suspensions are only temporary … many have decided to get vaccinated as they see that the vaccination mandate is a reality,” Mr Veran said.
He said there have so far been only “a few dozen” resignations.
Italy is set to announce later on Thursday that proof of vaccination or a negative test will be compulsory for all workers.
Vaccination for health workers was made mandatory at the end of March. As of Thursday, 728 doctors across the country had been suspended for failing to be vaccinated, the Italian doctors’ federation said.
The Netherlands plans a similar step but only to go to bars or clubs.