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Omicron exposes inflexibility of Europe's public hospitals

World Health Organization
Strasbourg University Hospital
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
the University of Washington
the Royal Free Hospital
Sky News
the National Health Service
the Society for Acute Medicine
the World Health Organization’s
NHS Confederation
the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
the French Hospital Federation

Julie Helms
Leye Ajayi
Tim Cooksley
David Heymann
Martin McKee
Nicolas Lefebvre
Frédéric Valletoux



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The New York Times
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Spain is seeing its determination to prevent a system collapse tested as omicron keeps medical personnel off work.“There are a lot of patients we can’t admit, and it’s the non-COVID patients who are the collateral victims of all this,” said Dr. Julie Helms, who runs the ICU at Strasbourg University Hospital in far eastern France.Two years into the pandemic, with the exceptionally contagious omicron impacting public services of various kinds, the variant’s effect on medical facilities has many reevaluating the resilience of public health systems that are considered essential to providing equal care.The problem, experts say, is that few health systems built up enough flexibility to handle a crisis like the coronavirus before it emerged, while repeated infection spikes have kept the rest too preoccupied to implement changes during the long emergency.Hospital admissions per capita right now are as high in France, Italy and Spain as they were last spring, when the three countries had lockdowns or other restrictive measures in place. It’s hard to imagine what we need to build for the future for other epidemics, but we’re going to have to reflect on the system of how we organize care,” said Dr. Nicolas Lefebvre, who runs the infectious diseases unit at the Strasbourg hospital.He said Europe is prepared to handle isolated outbreaks as it has in the past, but the pandemic has exposed weakened foundations across entire health systems, even those considered among the world's best.Frédéric Valletoux, the head of the French Hospital Federation, said policymakers at the national level are acutely aware of the problem now.

As said here by LORI HINNANT Associated Press