Hadassah University Hospital will be forced to lay off staff due to the medical center’s deepening financial crisis, Dr. Yuval Weiss, its acting director-general, told staff in a memo issued Sunday.
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“It is painful for me to say that there won’t be any choice but to reduce Hadassah’s workforce,” wrote Weiss. He didn’t detail the size of the layoffs, but a hospital spokesman said an interim report by an outside consultant had recommended cutting the hospital’s 7,200-member staff by 200.
In response, Hadassah’s workers committee Sunday declared a labor dispute, which could lead to a strike after a mandatory 14-day cooling-off period.
Amnon Bruchian, chairman of the workers committee, said he declared the labor dispute on the background of what he termed “management’s wrongheaded decisions, and its trampling on workers’ rights in the name of advancing a recovery program whose direction is unclear, and what it seeks to restore while ignoring the real problems that exist in the structure of the hospital and its labor model.”
He called for the government to consider nationalizing the institution. “Hadassah is more than a hospital, it’s a strategic asset that serves hundreds of thousands of patients every year,” he said. “We can’t continue to put the captain’s license for this flagship in the hands of irresponsible people.”
Close to bankruptcy
Hadassah is struggling with a NIS 200 million operating deficit, which is pushing the institution close to the point of bankruptcy. The memo was issued in the wake of a report by PwC Israel Consulting, which has been working for the past two months on a long-term rehabilitation plan to pull the medical center out of its financial crisis.
Weiss outlined steps already taken the past few months to cut down expenses: a partial freeze in overtime pay, drastically reduced hiring of new staff, and a freeze on promotions and new appointments. “But these steps aren’t enough,” he wrote.
“With each passing day the dimensions of the financial crisis we face are growing worse and the measures we need to take are immediate and painful,” Weiss maintained. According to Weiss, studies show that Hadassah has more staff than other hospitals of similar size, generating higher expenses in relation to income. He added that the cutbacks would be applied to all parts of the hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and maintenance and administrative staff.
The cutbacks seem to be part of an emerging deal between Hadassah’s administration and the government. TheMarker has learned that Hadassah’s chairwoman, Esther Dominissini, is in advanced talks with the Finance Ministry for NIS 50 million of extra funds to prevent the hospital’s collapse.
But some officials questioned Weiss’ estimates.
“The claim that Hadassah has a surplus of doctors and nurses for its size isn’t correct,” according to a senior Hadassah official. “Other hospitals simply ‘hide’ part of their workforce by having them employed by corporations [research funds] so they aren’t considered hospital staff. Such ruses aren’t seen at Hadassah, and that’s the difference. Anybody entering here can tell immediately that there’s no surplus of doctors and nurses, but rather a shortage.”