PARIS, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The French government on Monday pledged 754 million euros (832.5 million U.S. dollars) to improve working conditions for emergency room staff in hospitals who have been protesting for six months now, but the fresh funding may not be enough to end the social movement as disenchantment persists.
The funds, to be released between 2019 and 2022, will finance 12 measures, including a 24-hour consultation service to be set up by 2020 to guide patients to the most appropriate services. Other measures include the creation of 50 new out-of-hours clinics to relieve emergency staff.
However, the government's action plan failed to placate the professional organizations. "We are very disappointed. ... The crisis is serious, deep," said Christophe Prudhomme, spokesman of the Association of Emergency Doctors of France.
"It is the entire health system that is dysfunctional. It will take more than these few measures, which for some are gadgets," he said.
The same reaction was echoed by Oriane Plumet, vice president of the inter-emergency collective that initiated the strike movement. "What we note in all cases is no progress in the framework of our claims. There is nothing in terms of salary enhancement, of increasing the number of paramedics in the services," he told the news channel BFMTV.
To Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the country's main union CGT, the government's plan to re-organize overloaded emergency room services was "very far from the account."
"We don't say that it's nothing but it's not what is needed. You have to go and listen to the staff," he told France 2 television.
French emergency services have been in protest since March after an attack on their staff at a Paris hospital, denouncing low pay and poor working conditions.
In June, the French government already unveiled a 70 million-euro aid package for emergency room staff. That funding was intended to provide risk bonuses and help hospitals recruit extra paramedical staff during the holiday season. Some medical staff dismissed the measures as "pure advertising."
The inter-emergency collective said 249 emergency services have been involved in the protest, while the Health Ministry put the number at 195.
The strike was largely symbolic because under the law emergency room staff in France cannot stop work. They continue to treat patients while posting protest signs in emergency rooms and wearing slogans on their uniforms.