French bronchiolitis crisis points to staff shortage –

A bronchiolitis epidemic affecting babies and children is sweeping through France, putting further strain on the overstretched and understaffed health sector.

Last week, nearly 7,000 babies, 90% of whom are under a year old, reported accidents and emergencies (A&E) – a 24% increase from the previous week. During the same period, appointment-based hospital admissions also increased by 53%.

Today, “too many patients are arriving at emergency rooms across the country, but not enough staff to provide adequate care,” Rémi Salomon, a pediatrician, told the public radio station. France Inter on Wednesday.

Not only is the bronchiolitis epidemic spreading rapidly, but “the total number of staff has been reduced and working conditions have become unbearable,” Salomon added. There is no need to prioritize patients, but the lack of resources is more striking than ever.

Bronchiolitis is a viral respiratory infection that causes the inflammation of baby’s bronchioles and can be fatal in some cases.

Doctors and nurses have been warning for more than a month of a risk of an uncontrollable epidemic. An open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, first published on October 21, has now garnered more than 7,000 signatories. The letter warns that “paediatric intensive care units across France are saturated” and condemns “the blatant deterioration in the care of children, putting them at risk on a daily basis”.

All hospitals in the Paris region activated an emergency plan on Tuesday to optimize human resources. It follows an initial plan launched more than two weeks ago by Health Minister François Braun – which has so far failed to effectively contain the spread of the virus.

On Monday, Braun also announced an additional €543 million for public hospitals, mainly due to additional COVID-19 costs that had not been addressed in previous budget iterations.

The European Commission approved a preventive treatment for bronchiolitis, Nirsevimab, in early November “for the prevention of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in infants,” said French pharmaceutical group Sanofi, co-developer of the treatment with AstraZeneca.

(Theo Bourgery-Gonse |

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