Medical residents - Nir Kafri - 12092011
Medical residents demonstrating in Tel Aviv in July. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Directors of public hospitals would be appointed for a specific number of years, under a proposal being examined by Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who may try to advance legislation to this effect.

Hospital directors, once appointed, currently can serve until they retire.

While limiting hospital directors' terms is not a new idea, it is apparently being raised again because Litzman was angered by the resistance displayed by some hospital directors to the labor agreement signed last month in an effort to end doctors' sanctions.

Litzman and Sheba Medical Center director Prof. Zeev Rotstein recently argued vehemently over the ongoing rebellion by the medical residents and young specialists, with Litzman believing that Rotstein was backing the young doctors and stoking their continued rejection of the agreement.

"If he isn't satisfied [with the agreement], he can leave," Litzman recently said.

Government sources say that Litzman recently asked members of the Civil Service Commission and the State Prosecution to investigate hospital directors who, he said, were inciting the medical residents behind the scenes.

Rotstein rejected the allegation, saying, "My job as Sheba director requires me to be the vanguard, to be creative, to innovate and to accomplish, even at the price of disagreeing with the short-sighted.

"I will continue to embrace and support the young doctors, who are the future of medicine in this country and I will not leave any stone unturned in the search for a resolution to the current crisis," he said.

Despite the tension, there have been signs that both Litzman and the residents are softening their stance. A number of residents passed messages to his office calling for renewed dialogue, while last week Litzman met with residents' representatives and offered them an outline of possible solutions.

This included the introduction of "full-time" positions, that would further compensate doctors willing to spend all their time in the public health system, and would involve a budget of over NIS 100 million beyond what was committed to in last month's deal.

The residents rejected that offer as insufficient, calling it "like putting a Band-Aid on cancer," and Litzman responded angrily.

But given the new, positive messages reaching his office, there will probably be another meeting with the residents soon, his office said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the number of residents and young specialists who have submitted new resignations has reached nearly 600.

This second wave of resignations follows last week's ruling by the National Labor Court that the first round constituted an illegal work action.