The continuing struggle by the doctors, even after a collective agreement has been signed, and the wave of resignations by the residents are making a mockery of the values of justice, morality and the rule of law.
At issue is a binding wage agreement that was signed by the doctors' representative, Israel Medical Association Chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman, and the treasury after half a year of sanctions and strikes, and that has also received a stamp of approval from the High Court of Justice, which even declared that it has the force of law.
The residents' behavior constitutes anarchy, as does the announcement by senior doctors that they, in solidarity with the residents, will not allow work in the hospitals to proceed normally.
Even without relating to the legal issue, the agreement was generous and fair, a deal unlike that ever given to any group of workers in the public sector. We're talking about a 47 percent wage increase over nine years, 70 percent of which will be paid out during the first three years, making the wage hike authentic and significant.
The health system will also get 1,000 more doctors in an effort to relieve the stress at the hospitals, and lengthy overnight shifts will be limited to six a month; and even more importantly, there has been a true revolution in the apportioning of resources - more to the country's outlying areas and to those medical specialities suffering shortages.
Eidelman didn't want all the doctors to get the same salary increase. He pushed to give doctors in outlying areas 20 percent more than those in the central region, since there are fewer opportunities to practice private medicine in the periphery.
The agreement also sets higher salaries for short-staffed specialties like anesthesiology, intensive care, surgery, internal medicine, pathology and geriatrics - and this was also justified.
The agreement even improves the care the public will receive during the evening and night hours; from now, specialists with up to 10 years of seniority will have to work overnight shifts, for which they will get a substantial salary increment.
This agreement advances public medicine all over the country, and expresses the willingness of the treasury to institute real reform, notwithstanding the insults being hurled at it by the medical residents. The treasury has even agreed to discuss with the residents tweaking the agreement and making some improvements.
The residents ought to get real, stop protesting and return to the hospitals.
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