The ordeal for suspended French healthcare workers is not over by any means

ER Editor: It is truly shocking what suspended healthcare workers have had to go through. This is likely true of anywhere, but especially in France. Sometimes this country is very cruel, where people tolerate and pass by the outrageous treatment of others providing they’re personally OK. Yet they’ll happily stand behind the ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ mantra unthinkingly. This tendency has been greatly amplified, as the interview below indicates. And it is an argument against unwieldy, large bureaucracies, which trample over the individual.

The law which made this hideous situation possible has not been repealed. It is at Macron’s or the government’s whim that carers have been allowed back to work. Such is the usefulness of the French ‘lawmakers’.

The report below is machine-translated.


No, the ordeal of suspended nursing staff is not over: “Reinstatement is worse than suspension, I call it disintegration”. Interview with Jean-Louis, from the collective “Les Essentiels”


INTERVIEW – Last April. The news then seemed favorable.

France’s High Authority for Health (HAS) finally gives a glimpse of the reinstatement of nursing staff, after more than 500 days of suspension. These categories of personnel, who refused in September 2021 to submit to the Covid-19 vaccination obligation with an unproven experimental product, have paid dearly. No salary, no access to unemployment, no other resources. A real banishment from society under an impulse that is much more political than scientific or medical.
We interviewed Jean-Louis, photographer, involved in the Les Essentiels collective, whose goal was, and remains, to come to the aid of these abandoned, mistreated, destitute caregivers. If we wondered at the time about the nature and conditions of this turnaround, “At the risk of playing spoilsport, I do not yet consider, at this stage, that the reintegration of caregivers is really a victory .” Did his distrust turn out to be justified?

Gilles Gianni, France-Soir – Last April, many people welcomed the end of the suspension of caregivers who refused the experimental anti-Covid-19 vaccine. Not you. During an interview with France-Soir, you even expressed caution, even distrust, towards this apparent relaxation. Were you right to stay defensive?

Jean-Louis, the Essentials – This is one of the rare times where I regret having been right, because as I suspected, it is the conditions in which reintegration takes place that are decisive. For a few isolated cases it went well, it allowed them to breathe, to revive a little, but for many the ordeal is far from over, it is even more painful than ever. It is all the more so since their problem has now been resolved in everyone’s minds, even though it is very often the coup de grace, the final death sentence. One of these caregivers expresses a fairly shared feeling:

“Reinstatement is worse than suspension, I call it disintegration.” 

Deprived of their most basic rights, including that to work enshrined in the Constitution, they are bloodless and riddled with debt after 20 months without resources. To eat or feed their family, some have had to sell their furniture, their car, their house, they have nothing left! How do we rebuild ourselves after such an ordeal? You don’t come out of it unscathed, you don’t recover from it overnight and the psychological after-effects mark you forever.

Axelle, for example, expresses it this way:

“I realize how big my wound is and how long it will take to heal. Even if I bounce back, I will remain suspended.”

This summer, while France was on vacation, “reintegrated” personnel were fighting for their survival, more destitute than ever, without resources, without income.

But why, since they could return to work? Because often the return is no longer possible. They hoped for some recognition of their suffering, but they encountered indifference, if not hostility:

“We’re nothing, even suspended finally. We heard each other say – I don’t want to get in trouble, I understand your anger but hey, we have to move on – Everyone wants to put a lid on it, the government no longer even needs to silence us or make us invisible, it’s the people, our entourage, our colleagues who don’t want to hear us, they want to forget” .

Like a victim whose damage is not recognized, they cannot even mourn these 20 months of banishment. Psychologically weakened many crack, they are declared unable to exercise by occupational medicine and find themselves on sick leave after a few days. But the surprise that awaits them is the double punishment. Having not contributed for more than a year, they are not entitled to any compensation, and their employment contract having been restored, they cannot benefit from any aid.

For other “reinstated” people, it is the establishment that closes for a summer month. Same punishment, they have not accumulated any right to leave during the suspension, they find themselves without resources, but being the holder of an employment contract they are not even entitled to RSA.

The worst thing despite everything is the more or less overt/assumed harassment that awaits them. Post-eliminated, reclassification to an unsuitable position, or geographically distant, various bullying, relentlessness of small, vengeful bosses (ER: oh, that is France, the pettiness and lack of charity!), unfair dismissal, etc., the list is not exhaustive. This is the lot of these staff (and it’s not just caregivers) that we end up with during their reinstatement.

France-Soir – Your comments suggest, beyond the multiplicity of cases, that the administrative machine has kept within its DNA, mixed with the management of the health crisis, a desire for discouragement, discrimination, even exclusion of personnel from healthcare who did not want to receive the experimental anti-Covid-19 vaccine. How can we explain this with regard to administrations and health agencies? 

I do not believe this is specific to the management of the health crisis. The administration has no qualms, it is a machine which can prove cumbersome and ineffective, or, as we have seen here, formidably efficient when it comes to carrying out tasks. orders. Asking the question about their purpose is not their role, and it is the circumstances that have made possible the inconceivable. It is Milgram’s experiment (ER: Stanley Milgram and his obedience to authority experiment) and the concept of the banality of evil, theorized by Hannah Arendt, that we have seen at work throughout this crisis.

The treatment reserved for suspended staff is unworthy of any human society. It nevertheless followed an implacable plan, relayed at each level by zealous and disempowered agents, who are the prerogative of any administrative service. An agent refusing to obey is a grain of sand that threatens to stop the well-oiled machine of the administration, there is no place for it. Discrimination, discouragement and exclusion then respond to this strategy of eliminating “black sheep,” and health agencies are only one of the relays of this cold mechanism.

The tragedy is that the hospital, once a haven of benevolence, is now following this same trend, empathy fading away in the face of administrative directives, as this nurse explains to us:

“My return is absolutely not desired, everything is being done to push me out. I find myself distraught in the face of a hierarchy devoid of empathy and humanity. My reintegration is impossible. I realize that I I no longer have a place in the hospital.”

This other caregiver makes a similar observation:

“Our function is to be mentally available, to welcome difference, the freedom of choice. The hospital wants to impose on me the opposite of these fundamental values ​​that I have been defending for 10 years with patients. I have the feeling of playing a part in a game for which others have the rules, but not me…” 

Everyone is aware that many caregivers have used a false vaccination certificate, but the administration has been able to turn a blind eye. Under the pretexts of health management, the objective is therefore submission above all. No wonder then the treatment reserved for dissidents who did not accept the experimental injection. Some heads of establishments have, however, refused this dictate of the absurd, employing unvaccinated caregivers who have tested negative on the sole condition that their colleagues know nothing about it. Submitting was therefore not inevitable, but such cases remain very isolated. As in Milgram’s experiment, it is up to each individual to position themselves by listening to their own conscience, but if saying no is always possible, it is not in the DNA of the administration.

It is indeed the participation of all the agents of the administration, at each hierarchical level and in an immense chain of collective disempowerment which allowed the infamy of this mode of suspension. But the most frightening is that the administration is not the only state body to have applied these dehumanized instructions to the letter. In all strata of civil society, the same trend could be observed. For example, the temp agency which employed Patricia before the suspension tells her today:

“You will no longer find any missions, you are marked with a red sticker.”

And even if the comparison offends some resolutely blinded minds, it cannot be denied that these excesses are a repetition of our not so ancient history.

The real originality lies in the scale of the phenomenon because the media have never had such power of influence. At the hands of a handful of billionaires close to the upper echelons of the state, they have lost their role as the fourth estate, they have put a leaden screed on state lies and echo government propaganda . With their help, we are witnessing a manipulation of public opinion and this has worked wonderfully, fear anesthetizing all critical thinking. This submission has plagued society as a whole and the people, by accepting its servitude, have renounced their free will, going so far as to banish those whom they were made to applaud yesterday as their heroes.

The mistreatment of personnel suspended by the administration could have been the trigger for awareness, but if some opened their eyes, the great awakening unfortunately did not take place.

France-Soir – The suspension of caregivers has led to the social death of some, as you describe, but also death by suicide, such as for example Mrs. Sylvie Desarménien. This nursing assistant in the intensive care unit, particularly committed to her work, could not bear to see her job so distorted and dehumanized.

With such dramas, how do you judge today the maintenance of political choices which we know have been useless against the epidemic? Indeed, the experimental anti-Covid-19 vaccine does not stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, as the manufacturer himself has recalled. The statistician Pierre Chaillot explains this policy by the desire to “enforce the orders of the leader” . You yourself speak of “submission”. Why such stubbornness when France is lacking caregivers? 

Elected officials represent their constituents and their actions should in principle be inspired only by this commitment, but for a long time now political choices have been guided more by the lobbies of big business than by the well-being of the people. Under the pressure of global standardization intended to serve the major economic players, society is tending towards standardization in all areas (including cultural), the individual and private life gradually fading in the face of an interest that we call collective, but which primarily serves those at the top of the social pyramid. This seems to be the primary concern of the current government.

In this context, individual dramas have very little weight in the face of enormous economic interests and power issues.

The population is aging and over 20 years, 100,000 beds have been eliminated, including 5,700 during the Covid crisis. At no time has this disastrous health policy been called into question. Find the mistake ! Staff who have chosen to devote their lives to the service of others are led to social death, sometimes going as far as suicide, while thousands of patients are not cared for due to a lack of healthcare staff. All this corresponds to a deliberate political will orchestrated for decades. Profitability now takes precedence over the quality of care and as Barbara, a caregiver, says:

“This crisis has made it possible for citizens to accept the renunciation of quality care and support.” 

For the administration, a good civil servant is a docile agent; one who thinks is a pebble in the shoe, but for politicians, it is downright dangerous. These caregivers who did not adhere to an experimental vaccination injunction are the same ones who have long denounced the breakage of the public hospital and the destruction of our health system to replace it with an American model. This is why Macron wants at all costs to “annoy the unvaccinated”: they disrupt the plan. Therefore, we must eject the recalcitrants at all costs.

But above all, if within the Macronist party and its sympathizers there is indeed the need to obey the leader, beyond the figure of Jupiter, stubbornness has become inevitable at all levels of decision-making and in all bodies of the society. This is “Pandora’s box” that I spoke about in April. Recognizing one’s errors, one’s lies, is implicitly admitting that the measures and constraints imposed on everyone had no scientific basis. In view of the tens of thousands of deaths resulting from the refusal to treat from the first days of the health crisis and all the serious adverse effects and the increase in mortality linked to mass vaccination, the saying “responsible but not guilty is no longer valid. This is indeed a question of guilt and it is collective, because everyone supported these choices and was complicit in them, the politicians in the first place, the deputies and senators representing the people, the administration as we have seen. above, a number of scientists and doctors, the unions, the justice system and even the population who submitted without question to this grotesque regime.

This is “systemic corruption”. And this is what makes stubbornness seem for the moment the only possible outcome, but it is a headlong flight which could ultimately prove explosive.

France-Soir: Abandoned caregivers, still attached to their jobs and yet not reinstated, remain in situations of complete social distress. Your Les Essentiels collective has been helping them since September 2021. How is your assistance organized today and what do you need to maintain it? 

Yes, these professionals are attached to their profession, and that is the absurdity of the suspension, having succeeded in discouraging passionate and dedicated caregivers while everywhere we are struggling to recruit them. Surgeon Eric Loridan describes this paradox well:

These are the first victims of this system which crushes the most beautiful caring souls.” 

The Les Essentiels collective was created in September 2021 with the mission of highlighting the suspended, “Give them a face, listen to them, help them”Portraits, stories and a call for donations open on the “Help/Donate” page of our site, this is the heart of our project, with later a book and exhibitions.

In two years, we have been confronted with the most dramatic situations. We have helped families or isolated people get out of their difficulties, sometimes even permanently, and we continue to follow those we have helped.

Covering the entire national territory, our collective currently has more than 140 photographers and the particularity of our organization is that it revolves around a close partnership with a few associations. This synergy gives us great freedom while allowing us to be both very responsive and to be able to intervene everywhere, in mainland France and even overseas.

Very soon we will be able to have the copyright of the book “Les Apprentis Sorciers”, which Alexandra Henrion-Caude (ER: a French geneticist and outspoken dissident) has chosen to give to the suspended by entrusting our collective with the responsibility of distributing them. But that will not be enough because we receive calls for help daily and the needs amount to several hundred thousand euros.

There is an emergency, which is why we are launching a new appeal for donations to help these suspended people, some of whom are now in agony. Their distress is deeper than ever, these few words from the “reintegrated” give the measure:


“Discarded like a plague victim and from one day to the next becoming indispensable again. I could not imagine being disappointed at being reinstated. This moment that I had hoped for so much and at the same time was so illusory, yes I was waiting for it desperately, but a reinstatement without consideration leaves me bitter. I wanted to return to my beloved profession but after almost two months of returning to my position as a nurse I feel exhausted.”


“It is difficult to close the page, to digest this ordeal given that there is no real end to this suspension! A ‘suspension of suspension’ and not a repeal of this law leaves us fragile in our professional career . I would like to continue in the field of care, but we remain in an ejection seat!”

Delphine :

“There is a break, a giant wound that reminds me that I am disposable. I have lost all confidence in the institution, I live day by day, I can no longer project myself into the future.” 

And what about the self-employed health professionals, some of whom have lost everything, their offices, their homes, when they are not also being prosecuted by the Council of the Order?

Or how not to be outraged by the case of Olga, suspended in September 2021. She was not reinstated as of May 15, 2023, her employer refusing to give her back her position on the grounds that she was replaced by an agent of the public function. No other position was offered to her and the employer initiated a dismissal procedure. The interview prior to dismissal took place in mid-July and her dismissal is subject to consideration by the contract workers committee, which will be held… during September!

In the meantime, she is prevented from resuming her position and the employer refuses to pay her on the grounds that she has not performed her service… Victim of a manifest abuse of rights, she has been without pay for almost 4 months, without being able to register with Pôle Emploi (ER: the country’s employement agency) or receive any assistance since she is not yet licensed. During the suspension she could receive the RSA, now she is no longer even entitled to it! The employer knows that after 20 months of suspension, she does not have the financial resources to hire a lawyer and he is therefore trying to push her to resign.

Whether or not you decide to respond to our call for donations, visit our site, click on the photos, read the testimonies and above all do not hesitate to share them to remind everyone that those suspended are still suffering and to try to break the wall of this general indifference which is, for them, the worst sentence. Don’t forget, don’t forget THEM! It is our first duty as citizens, it is also a duty from human to human, quite simply.



Featured imge: Photo by Kyle Glenn on unsplash


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1 Comment on The ordeal for suspended French healthcare workers is not over by any means

  1. An ex-nurse myself, living and working in France for years, I am shocked and deeply touched by this outrageous situation. Who will care properly for patients if (good, thinking) nurses, aren’t going to be able to do it?

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