At 11. 2 per cent, France’s health expenditure as a share of GDP is only beaten by the US, Sweden and Germany, with the UK on 9.8 per cent, according to the latest figures compiled by the OECD group of developed nations.

Yet starting pay for a nurse, for example, stands at €1,500 (£1,340) one of the group’s lowest levels.

While the government last November promised them bonuses, an additional €1.5 billion for hospitals over the next three years, and to absorb €10 billion euros of hospital debt, caregivers dismissed the measures as cosmetic. They also want health workers to have greater say than administrative staff over how hospitals are managed.

Mr Philippe promised “massive investments” as well as “radical changes” that could include new rules on working hours and scheduling to motivate healthcare workers amid signs a growing number are leaving the public health sector.

“The key word here is pragmatism. I cannot say now what these discussions will lead to, but I’ve said that we must remove all constraints, whatever they are,” he said.

“We must do more,” he added, without providing any figure on extra spending.

“I believe this crisis requires us not to change our goals, but to step up our pace,” he said.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed over 28,000 people in France, though the number of daily deaths has fallen sharply since the peak of the outbreak.

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