Medical students, doctors' strike - 22.7.11
Medical students joining protest for improved working conditions on July 22, 2011. Photo by Dudu Bakar
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Medical residents from a number of Israeli hospitals withdrew their resignation letters Thursday, following an announcement earlier in the day that medical resident representatives were set to deliver 1,000 resignation letters.

Medical residents from a majority of hospitals country-wide were delivered in protest of the agreement made by the Israel Medical Association and the Treasury on Wednesday. The medical residents had begun submitting resignation letters to Sheba Medical Center and Beilinson Hospital, and they will come into effect within 30 days.

The Health Ministry urged hospital managers Thursday evening to show patience with regards to the receipt of resignation letters, and to avoid declarations at the present stage. "The Health Ministry is regrets the resignation of medical interns and calls upon them to act responsibility with unwell members of the public and to continue their routine work," said the Ministry.

"Hospital managers received instructions on how to act under the current circumstances. The resignations are only expected to become effective in about 30 days in most cases. We are still in the midst of negotiations and both sides must act with reason, responsibility and commitment to the hospitals' public," said the Ministry.

Earlier Thursday, Dr. Nadav Haim, a resident at Sheba Medical Center, said in light of the issuance of resignation letters, "Under the current circumstances, we feel we cannot go on with our work. Our hands are shaking and we are aware of the gravity of the decision and its consequences." Haim added that the residents support IMA head Dr. Leonid Eidelman's struggle, "yet under these conditions we feel we must take another step."

The IMA expressed anger at the decision. "The residents have gotten many benefits and everything was done… to improve their quality of life," said Dr. Zeev Feldman, one of the leaders of the IMA's protest. He called on the residents to retract the resignation letters and return to work within 24 hours.

The residents are pressuring the IMA not to back down from the demand for a significant raise in the hourly pay.

On Wednesday, the Finance Ministry and Israeli Medical Association reached a breakthrough in negotiations, with both sides agreeing to add 1,000 staff positions, as per the demands of the IMA and medical residents. The sides also agreed on encouraging doctors to work in the periphery by offering grants of up to NIS 300,000.