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French healthcare has seen some 1,300 resignations, according to the minister for health, amid reports that hospitals have closed 20% of beds due to understaffing. The cause is seemingly unknown to the government.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said his office was trying to understand a spike in resignations that will see many hospitals short-staffed in the often-busy autumn-winter period.

“Among nurses, there are 1,300 resignations recorded,” Veran stated on Thursday, adding that the problem was not an exception among European nations. He noted that many nurses had joined the healthcare profession in the middle of the pandemic, and suggested exhaustion might have been a factor in their departure.

The minister’s comments came after numerous reports in the French media that hospitals were struggling to cope due to a lack of caregivers. In Paris’s Bichat–Claude Bernard Hospital, only six of 24 nursing positions are currently filled, meaning only four of 28 beds are available.

According to the Scientific Council, a representative of which spoke with French news channel BFMTV, one in five hospital beds is currently closed across France due to the lack of nurses. The report also affirmed Veran’s view that many caregivers were exhausted by the demands being placed on them during the pandemic.

Veran dismissed the 20% figure, however, suggesting the real number was closer to 5%. He has requested an inquiry into the causes of the resignations.

At times, the pandemic has pushed the French hospital system to its limits, although hospitalizations have fallen since coronavirus vaccines were rolled out. In September, France suspended 3,000 unvaccinated health workers for not getting a Covid-19 jab as required under new regulations.

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