Doctors in France sue their prime minister for 'government lie'

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and the former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn

Gathered in a collective called C 19, more than 600 doctors filed a complaint Thursday, 19 March against the former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe whom they accuse of "government lie" in their management of the coronavirus epidemic crisis. The complaint was sent to the Court of Justice of the Republic, the only court empowered to judge acts committed by members of the government in the exercise of their functions, Le Figaro newspaper reported.

Three doctors, representatives of a group of carers, filed a complaint Thursday against Edouard Philippe and Agnès Buzyn, according to their lawyer, Me Fabrice Di Vizio. Health workers argue that the government should have stored masks, tests, and other necessary medical materials after information about the extent of the disaster appeared, but did nothing. Buzyn herself, in an interview with Le Monde, stated that when she resigned last January, I already knew “about the impending tsunami”.

The complaint will first be considered by a special commission that can reject it. If the court rules in favor of the doctors, Philippe and Buzyn will face a two-year prison sentence and a €30,000 fine, about $32,300. According to the new Health Minister, Olvier Veran, the authorities ordered 250 million more masks, 86 million are already stored in warehouses.

"There is an issue on everyone's minds, that of protective masks and equipment," Véran said. "I understand the urgency of giving masks to those who care for us and those who are sick," he continued. "My responsibility as minister is to do everything to ensure that they can be delivered over time. However, although I know how long the stocks can last, I don't know how long the epidemic will last."

France is currently contending with a serious shortage of FFP2 health masks, the most effective in protecting against the coronavirus.

Véran fielded a number of questions on the lack of available masks in France and condemned recent incidents in which people had broken into emergency vehicles and stolen supplies of protective medical equipment.

In response to the shortages, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Saturday announced the government had instructed manufacturers and researchers to work on developing alternative prototypes to protect health workers and the population from the spread of the coronavirus.

"We have asked the Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of Defense to find alternatives, more precisely to engage in a wide range of industrial activities and research, either to multiply the production lines or to come up with alternatives, disposable or reusable," Philippe told the National Assembly.

According to the Directorate General of Health, France has a production capacity of six million masks per week.

Healthcare staff in hospitals say they are in urgent need of FFP2 health masks, which are considered to be much more protective than surgical masks.

"The public authorities and all those involved in the national production network should join forces to provide the 15 million FFP2 masks we need every day," wrote several doctors and other surgery personnel in a press release.

"Our country is counting on us to face this pandemic, but it is unacceptable to make us take ill-considered risks because under our coats, we are still human beings, as vulnerable as anyone else," they added.



More on this subject: Coronavirus

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