Coronavirus, hospital, pensions … the heavy files that Agnès Buzyn bequeaths to Olivier Véran

New coronavirus, hospital crisis, battle over pension reform: Agnès Buzyn leaves the Ministry of Health to run for mayor of Paris, leaving behind heavy files.

Shortly after the announcement of his candidacy and his withdrawal from the government, moreover, several political opponents quickly seized the opportunity to criticize him for “abandoning his post”, in the words of campaign director Anne Hidalgo, Emmanuel Grégoire. “Last Friday, she explained that she did not have time to be a candidate for mayor of Paris,” said Ian Brossat.

  • The coronavirus epidemic

It was the reason she had invoked not to enter the campaign. Since the start of the year, Agnès Buzyn has been at the forefront of the coronavirus epidemic in China. Several times a week, she, flanked by the Director General of Health, comes in person to announce the new cases detected on French territory or to give news of the French in China.

On Saturday, she announced the death of an 80-year-old Chinese tourist hospitalized for several weeks in Paris, the first death outside Asia in connection with the epidemic. Twelve cases have been confirmed in France to date, with now four cures and another seven hospitalized patients, the daughter of the deceased tourist and six British.

This strategy of regular communication was praised because it prevented the spread of false news or fueled too much concern. Omnipresent, she met French returnees from Wuhan in the south of France and went to Brussels for an emergency meeting of European health ministers.

It will be up to the next minister to continue the strategy used so far to avoid the spread of the virus in France, based on hospitalization in confinement for each confirmed case and on the conduct of a survey to trace and screen the people with whom they have been in contact.

  • An unprecedented crisis in the hospital

The minister is extricating herself from an unprecedented hospital crisis, from which this hematologist herself came, 11 months after the start of a strike in the emergency services which has since spread to the entire sector .

Budget extension, bonuses for staff, partial recovery of debts … After a succession of announcements and a “My Health 2022 strategy” which, since September 2018, has been slow to produce its effects, the government had unveiled in late November a “plan “for the hospital to appease the discontent born of several years of budget cuts.

In vain. About 800 chief medical officers have resigned from their administrative functions for three weeks in protest. And on Friday, several thousand doctors and paramedics demonstrated again to demand more resources and higher wages. On the same day, the minister promised to receive the resigners this week …

Erased in recent weeks on the most explosive file of the quinquennium, Agnès Buzyn was no less the minister responsible for the Secretary of State for Pensions, Laurent Pietraszewski. And before him High Commissioner Jean-Paul Delevoye, forced to resign, in the midst of a social conflict around the reform, against a background of incomplete declaration of interests.

However it will be necessary to support his successor to defend the bill for a future universal pension system, debated from Monday in the hemicycle, under pressure from the street, mobilized since December 5.

“The atmosphere is complicated,” sums up a union negotiator, two days before the start of work on the “financing conference”, responsible for bringing the system back to balance by 2027. “We hope to be able to continue working serenely “after so many” turpitudes “and two years of consultations around this promise by candidate Macron.

  • Old age and dependence

The minister will not have had time to launch her “old age law”, eagerly awaited, initially for 2019, but postponed until the summer, to the chagrin of representatives of the sector of assistance to the elderly.

The challenges linked to the aging of the population, a time bomb, had been brought to light by a vast mobilization started in early 2018 by the staff of retirement homes. In mid-2018, Emmanuel Macron promised a dependency law “passed before the end of the year” 2019.

Last March, when receiving an important report on old age, Agnès Buzyn mentioned a text “in the fall” before pushing the deadline several times until 2020. The number of seniors losing their autonomy, which was 2.5 million in 2015, could reach 4 million in 2050, according to INSEE.


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