Brussels, Nov 19 (AFP/APP):One is a pastry-cook. Another dreams of becoming a bookseller. All have slammed the door on the hospitals where they used to work, exhausted by wave after wave of Covid-19 patients.
Nolwenn Le Bonzec, a former nurse who moved from her native Brittany to the Belgian capital Brussels, recounted how she hung up her surgical uniform six months ago and hasn’t looked back.
Now she makes little coloured cupcakes. A radical shift that “saved my mental health”, she says.
“I worked for five years in a hospital. Little by little I saw the working conditions go downhill, and health became a mere product. Initially, it was a profession we did to be humane,” the 27-year-old says, as she wears the black apron of the “Lilicup” shop where she now works.
Thomas Laurent, another former nurse, wanted to work in a hospital since he was 15 — it was an “old dream,” he explains. In January he will start training as a bookseller.
The 35-year-old Frenchman has just left the hospital emergency ward in Lyon, central France. Conditions there, he says, “were no longer tolerable”.
Despite a desperate plea by European authorities for medical staff to treat wave after wave of Covid-19 patients, these former nurses speak of disillusionment and disappointment with public health systems they say fell far short of what they were designed for.
“We have demanded better conditions for years. But the (Belgian) government simply doesn’t take us seriously,” Le Bonzec says.
“If I kept on, I think I would have fallen into depression. We protested. We stood up. But it didn’t change anything.”
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