Doctors: Hospitals Need 800 Additional Beds Immediately

Hospital ward managers warn of irregular overloads reaching crisis levels. Health Ministry estimates the need for 800 additional beds in order to meet demand.

Internal medicine ward managers warned of a hospitalization crisis and irregular overloads at hospitals, in an emergency meeting Wednesday morning at the offices of the medical labor federation.

According to estimates by the Health Ministry, there is a need for an additional 800 beds in the internal medicine wards in order to meet demand. They added that at this rate, by the year 2015 there will be a shortfall of 1500 beds in said wards.

Patients hospitalized in hallways due to overload at Rambam Hospital
Moran Mayan

According to an administrative report authored for the medical labor federation by the Argo consulting firm, which is based on reporting by 85 of the 91 internal medicine wards in Israel, there is an immediate need for 489 beds in order to keep up with demand. According to the reports, today there are 3,552 people interned in hospitals, but only 3,063 beds that are usable.

Since 2007 there has been a decline of 19 beds, despite the rise in the country's population during that time. According to January figures, the ratio of hospital beds to people is 0.5 beds to 1000 people, which is the lowest figure of all the developed countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the exception of Mexico.

The chairperson of the medical labor federation Leonid Edelman said, "Right now what is needed is an immediate intervention so that patients will not be lying on beds in the hallways and porches. The current state of affairs is a blow to human rights and illustrates the inability of doctors to treat patients that are relegated to the hallways."

Health Ministry general manager Dr. Ronni Gamzu, who attended the emergency meeting, said, "I must apologize to you. As a representative of the Health Ministry, the situation that the doctors are working in and the patients are hospitalized in is unbecoming for the year 2010."

Gamzu added, "There aren't enough beds, and I can see that the implications are worrying." Gamzu announced that he would take action to raise the number of beds and improve the working conditions of doctors.