Doctors at all public hospitals are to work on Sabbath footing Sunday, meaning all outpatient clinics will be closed and only emergency surgery will be performed. The move was announced by the Israel Medical Association, in conjunction with a major protest rally to be held in Jerusalem Sunday morning.
Thousands of doctors and medical students are expected to attend the rally, to be held at 11 A.M. at the Rose Garden, opposite the Knesset. Some doctors will march to the rally from Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem, accompanied by medics from around the country.
The leadership of the Israel Medical Association are expected to submit a petition today to the Prime Minister’s Office calling to save public medicine in Israel. Thousands of doctors have signed the petition over recent months.
At 9:30 A.M., President Shimon Peres is to meet the IMA leadership at his office in Jerusalem. The president has asked the head of the IMA, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, to call off the hunger strike he started last Monday.
Eidelman, who is to give the main address at today’s rally, reiterated his call over the weekend for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is also the health minister to intervene immediately in the crisis.
“Where are you, Mr. Netanyahu? The public health system has been falling apart for years, but the breaking point came on your watch and catastrophe is just around the corner. You have a simple decision: disaster or a solution. The solution is in your hands,” Eidelman said. Negotiations are expected to take place after the rally at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem.
No breakthrough was achieved in talks last week, and it was decided only that negotiations would begin again at the point at which they broke off when the medical residents’ wildcat strike began, a week and a half ago.
Representatives of the residents, who started their strike when a draft of the agreement between the IMA and the treasury led them to fear their issues were not being fully addressed in the negotiations, are also to speak at the rally.