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There are even fewer hospital beds: more than 6,700 will close in 2022.

The Health Secretary has promised to “reopen beds” to relieve hospital pressure, but his “fight” promises to be tough, with more than 6,700 full hospital beds closed in 2022, continuing a decline seen over the past two decades.

According to a report from the statistical department of social ministries (Drees) published on Wednesday, as of December 31, 2022, there were exactly 374,290 full beds in 2,976 public and private hospitals, which is 6,713 less than the previous year (-1.8%) .

At the same time, healthcare facilities created 2,591 partial hospitalization beds without overnight stays in the facility (+3.1%), bringing the total number of beds to 85,015. Unlike beds, a day “bed” can usually accommodate several daily patients.

“The trend has been observed for several years now.”

These figures, observed in both the public and private sectors, illustrate “a trend observed over several years” that “reflects the desire” of public authorities to reorganize the provision of hospital care towards a more “outpatient” one. But there is also a shortage of staff, which, according to the study’s authors, “makes it impossible to maintain beds.”

In total, since the end of 2013, 39 thousand full hospitalization beds have been eliminated (-9.4% over nine years), and 17.4 thousand partial hospitalization beds have been created.

According to data available on the website of Irdes (Institute for Research and Documentation in Health Economics), the decline in capacity has also been almost constant since the early 2000s. Carers regularly condemn bed closures, which are overwhelming services, putting pressure on teams and increasing tensions in emergency services.

“Lack of attractiveness”

“My only fight for the public hospital is to open beds, even if it is not good news for the Ondam (National Health Insurance Spending Target),” Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau said during a hearing in mid-October. in the National Assembly.

If beds are closed, he said, “it is not for budgetary reasons,” but because of the “unattractiveness” of medical professions. And the government is not “sitting on its hands,” he said, citing large budgets allocated during the Segur de la Santé or the recent increase in night work. At the end of November, he promised to “open several thousand beds by the end of the year.”

Less than 29,800 beds since 2016

In total, almost 29.8 thousand beds were eliminated between the end of 2016 and the end of 2022, which basically corresponds to the period of the presidency of Emmanuel Macron. This is much more than under his predecessor François Hollande (-15,000 from the end of 2012 to the end of 2017), but significantly less than under Nicolas Sarkozy’s five-year term (-37,000).

Productivity has also declined “faster” since 2020 than before the Covid-19 epidemic, Dries noted in the study.

The health crisis could “explain the increased decline”, in part due to the temporary relocation of intensive care staff, deprogramming of care or even the conversion of double rooms to single rooms. However, the decline observed in 2022 is “the most noticeable,” the authors note. Home hospitalization (HAD) capacity increased by 1.6%, following a 10.5% jump in 2020 and 6.8% in 2021.

Source: Le Parisien

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