Doctors strike - August 24 2011  - Moti Milrod
Doctors on strike in Israel, August 24, 2011. Photo by Moti Milrod
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An agreement was finally signed between the Finance Ministry and the Doctors' Llabor Federation Thursday afternoon, ending a five-month-long struggle. The agreement, which is expected to drastically change the face of Israeli medicine, is the achievement of negotiations that dragged on for almost a full year, starting in September 2010.

The 36-page-long agreement was signed by representative of the Finance Ministry Ilan Levin, Doctors' Labor Federation chairman Dr. Leonid Edelman, and representatives of Clalit HMO, Hadassah Hospital and Government Service.

The agreement, a compromise between the demands of the doctors and the ministry, was signed after a breakthrough in recent days between the two sides. The breakthrough was due to the facilitation of Yitzhak Peterburg. The details of the draft agreement were published Wednesday, and the two sides deliberated intensively overnight to iron out the final details.

The deal includes a 49 percent average salary increase for hospital doctors, who will now clock in and out, and the addition of 1,000 doctors at public hospitals. The wage hike is not equal across the board; the hikes are much higher for doctors in outlying areas or in specialties that are short of physicians.

The agreement is for nine years, retroactive to July 2010, when the last deal expired. The agreement will increase funding for doctors in the public health system by NIS 2.7 billion.

Doctors working in outlying areas will earn an average of 20 percent more than their counterparts in the center of the country.

Differential increases will also be paid to physicians in specialties with doctor shortages, including general surgery, internal medicine, pathology, geriatrics, child psychology, hematology, emergency medicine, nuclear medicine and pediatric oncology.

An especially high increase - 70 percent - will be given to specialists in fields where the shortages are acute, including anesthesiology, intensive care, pediatrics and neonatology.

Moreover, medical residents who move to the periphery or choose to specialize in a field in which doctors are lacking will be given a one-time grant of NIS 300,000. Residents who do both - move to the periphery and specialize in a field with shortages - will receive a grant of NIS 500,000.