Doctors Call on Prime Minister to Resolves Health System Crisis as Nurses Join Struggle

Dan Even
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Dan Even

The doctors’ protest rally outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem will continue in shifts, a statement from the Israeli Medical Association said Monday. Meanwhile, the Nurses’ Union has also joined the doctors’ struggle and is planning joint protests.

The doctors have set up a tent camp at the entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office from which they are calling on Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene to resolve the dispute between the IMA and government.

IMA head Dr. Leonid Eidelman in his protest tent Monday. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Meanwhile, the Knesset Health Lobby has called an emergency session Tuesday to discuss the crisis in the health system, with parliamentarians from both the opposition and the coalition set to participate.

The negotiations between the doctors and the Finance Ministry continued Monday but a source from the talks said no headway had been made.

“There is no breakthrough at the moment, everyone is waiting for Netanyahu to step in,” the source said.

The talks are to continue Tuesday. Meanwhile, IMA Chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman is continuing his hunger-strike, which began last Monday. “I will stop the hunger strike only if there’s an agreement, or when I cannot function any longer,” he said.

The Nurses’ Union, which declared a labor dispute two weeks ago as a prelude to strike, joined the doctors’ struggle and intends to send a group to the IMA’s protest tent today.

Nurses walked out of four wards in the Sheba Medical center for two hours yesterday in protest against the hospital management’s failure to employ sufficient nurses in the overflowing internal wards. “It is unthinkable that Israel’s largest and richest hospital, which also operates extensive medical tourism, fails to employ sufficient number of nurses, as required by the collective wage agreement,” said Nurses’ Union Chair Ilana Cohen.

“Why should tourists who come for medical treatment receive better treatment than the elderly Israeli patients on respirators?” she asked, adding: “Not hiring sufficient nurses is criminal negligence.”

The IMA yesterday petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct Netanyahu to intervene in the crisis. The State Prosecution told the court the IMA had reneged on many of the agreements that had been reached and called to solve the crisis by arbitration.