Health Ministry: Israel Suffering From Severe Lack of Doctors and Nurses

Ratio of doctors to citizens could drop to 2.69 per 1,000 by 2025, officials warn.

The Health Ministry warned in a report issued Monday that Israeli medical institutions were suffering from a severe lack of doctors and nurses.

In Israel today there are 25,542 doctors - or 3.36 doctors for every 1,000 citizens. The ratio of doctors per citizen in Israel is higher than the same rate in industrialized countries – 3.1 doctors to 1,000 citizens.

That ratio could fall to 3.09 doctors for every 1,000 citizens by the year 2015, according to the committee that drafted the report. The number could then reach 2.69 by 2025, unless intervention was taken to solve the problem.

The health ministry urged medical schools to admit more students as a possible way of preventing shortage. An additional 300 students must be admitted to medical programs every year in order to reach the ratio of 2.9 doctors to 1,000 citizens in the year 2025, according to the report.

The committee recommended reducing the number of medical programs available to foreign students to allow more citizens to study in their home country.

The health ministry has also teamed up with the immigration ministry in order to encourage Israeli doctors working outside of Israel to return.

The ministry presented in its report a program to the tune of tens of millions of shekels that could increase the number of medical personnel in Israel. The program outlines the creation of a new profession for the medical world: nursing assistants that could provide basic medical care to patients.