Hundreds of Israel's Medical Residents Skip Work Amid Threats of Mass Resignation

Netanyahu’s office urges medical residents to hold off on resignation for two weeks, says actively working to find a solution to the crisis.

Representatives of Israel's protesting medical residents on Monday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "show leadership" and solve the issues pertaining to their working conditions, after talks with the Finance Ministry broke down. Some 280 residents failed to arrive at work on Monday morning, amid threats of mass resignation.

Dr. Oren Feldman, a resident at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, told a press conference in Tel Aviv that the residents are "in a difficult moment of despair."

Medical residents - Nir Kafri - 12092011
Nir Kafri

"I urge Netanyahu, please intervene and solve the crisis," said Feldman. "As long as there is no substantial offer, there is no point in renegotiating with the treasure. As for me, from the moment I resign, I do not intend to look back."

Netanyahu’s office issued a statement on Monday saying that it was actively working to find a solution to the crisis, and imploring the doctors to show responsibility and hold off on their resignation for two weeks.

On Sunday, representatives of the medical residents walked out of a meeting with the treasury and the Israel Medical Association.

The residents claimed when they left the meeting that no substantive headway was being made to resolve outstanding issues pertaining to their working conditions. The meeting was meant to last until 10:00 P.M. on Sunday, however, the residents cut the meeting short.

"The only proposal the treasury put forward was to take the money that was set aside to help the periphery, and move them to hospitals in the center of the country,” one of the representatives said.

The medical residents rejected the proposal immediately, and renewed their call for a mass resignation to take place on Monday.

Last week, the National Labor Court temporarily prevented the resignation of medical residents at hospitals throughout Israel, however, this only bought a few more days before talks broke down again on Sunday.

If the residents follow through on their threat to resign on Monday, the resignation letters handed in by 382 residents will go into effect later in the day.

Residents from the following hospitals have tendered their resignation: Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv (130 residents ), Meir Hospital, Kfar Sava (77 ), Rambam Medical Center, Haifa (52 ), Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer (40 ), Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva (24 ), Schneider Children's Medical Center, also in Rabin Medical Center (23 ), Assaf Harofeh, Tzrifin (15 ), Wolfson Medical Center, Holon (14 ) and Bnei Zion Medical Center (Rothschild ), Haifa (7 ).