Litzman: High Court Decision Will Weaken Public Medicine

Deputy Health Minister and Health Ministry director-general 'strongly object' to High Court decision to allow private treatment at hospital being built in Ashdod.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Health Ministry director-general Roni Gamzu "strongly objected" to the High Court of Justice's decision to allow private treatment at the hospital being built in Ashdod, an aide to Litzman said.

"The deputy minister and ministry director-general strongly objected to operating private medical services in the hospital planned in Ashdod, for fear this will strengthen private medicine at the expense of public medicine. They were forced, after the fact, to agree to restricted private services (25 percent ) as agreed in the tender," said the aide.

However, Litzman has publicly supported introducing private services into hospitals and recently said he is in favor of partial private treatment in public hospitals in the periphery.

The aide insisted that "you can't associate his general position in favor of private medical services and his firm stance against private medical services in Ashdod."

Senior Health Ministry officials have tried to advance private medical services in public hospitals in recent years, but have failed due to the Finance Ministry's objection in principle to this practice. Treasury officials say it would raise national health expenses significantly.

Assuta Medical Services, the company building the hospital in Ashdod, welcomed the High Court's ruling, while social activists and civil rights groups protested it.

Most senior physicians did not comment on the ruling that allows expanding private treatment in hospitals, a practice senior physicians and health professionals have been advancing in recent years.

The heads of Physicians for Human Rights are divided between supporters and opponents of private health services.