Hospital: the “unprecedented” summer of emergency room closures

Hospital the unprecedented summer of emergency room closures

This summer, the emergencies held up, at least on the front. “But at what price?” asks the union Samu emergencies of France (SudF). In study unpublished, published this Wednesday, August 6, the union points to the failures of many services during the summer period. The situation of emergency services and mobile emergency and resuscitation structures (Smur) “continued to deteriorate” during the summer of 2023 to reach “unprecedented” tension, deplores the Samu-Urgences union of France in this report.

At least 163 health establishments “had to close their emergency service at least once for lack of human resources during the summer”, while 166 Smur closed at least one unit over the period, reveals the survey, not exhaustive .

The union, which regrets “the absence of centralized collection” of data on the difficulties encountered by the services, carried out the survey itself. Through a questionnaire sent between August 21 and September 2, the union managed to collect information on 389 emergency and resuscitation services (SAU), i.e. 57%, 87 Samu center 15 (92%) and 233 mobile emergency and resuscitation services (SMUR), i.e. 54%. In total, the study makes it possible to trace the difficulties of “more than half” of the 680 emergency structures in France.

Map of France of closures of emergency services closed punctually this summer.

© / Samu – Emergencies of France

“The illusion” of maintaining access to care

“The system gives the illusion of having held up,” said the union in a press release released on Wednesday September 6. “But the reception and care conditions are profoundly altered. The working conditions have become unbearable and inhuman for our exhausted professionals. Health security is sometimes no longer guaranteed, including for vital emergencies”, deplores-t -he.

In addition, 157 emergency services say they have closed at least one medical line, in connection with the strong tensions on the availability of emergency doctors, in particular since April 2023 and the entry into force of the Rist law on medical interim. “The very large number of medical line closures is to be linked to the very strained emergency doctor resources, particularly since April 2023”, assures the union.

Also, the study of the union highlights the extent of the phenomenon on the national territory. All departments are affected. The closures are distributed very heterogeneously over the territory, affecting rural, urban and even tourist areas. Busy services are spared the closures, however. But if they do not present closed door, the reduction in their reception offer is such that they sometimes only take vital emergencies.

Reinforcements not found for centers 15

Regarding the Samu-Centres 15, three-quarters of them say they needed reinforcements from medical regulation assistants (ARM), but a third could not find any. “The impact of the adaptation measures taken during this summer (closure of SU, access regulation, reduction in the number of SMURs, etc.) and the messages to the general public “make the 15” will have had less effect than in 2022. in terms of increased Center 15 activity,” the study observes. Nevertheless, the union affirms that the workforce in particular of ARM “remains insufficient” and “puts in difficulty the functioning of these structures and like the ongoing deployment of the Care Access Services (SAS)”.

Asked Tuesday morning about France 2, the Minister of Health, Aurélien Rousseau, presented other figures. “We have 680 emergency services in France, 5 were completely closed this summer, around forty had to close punctually,” he assured. During a press conference on Tuesday, the French Hospital Federation (FHF) for its part estimated that the situation of emergency services has deteriorated in 41% of establishments compared to 2022, and that access to hospital beds deteriorated in one year in 52% of establishments.

“There must be recognition of the seriousness of the situation, and that there be investments, in particular in hospital attractiveness”, indicated Marc Noizet, president of the union and head of emergencies and the Samu of Mulhouse. (Haut-Rhin), with Agence France Presse.