Health Ministry Director General Ousted From Talks With Doctors

Dr. Roni Gamzu will be replaced with Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef as special advisor to the Health Ministry on the residents' crisis.

Following the broadcast of Health Ministry Director General Dr. Roni Gamzu's remarks on Thursday to medical residents that were harshly critical of the Finance Ministry, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman announced Thursday night that he will replace Gamzu with Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef as special advisor to the Health Ministry on the residents' crisis.

The Health Ministry said Litzman had made the decision in consultation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the health minister.

Roni Gamzu Shlomo Mor-Yosef - Nir Keidar - 18112011
Nir Keidar

Mor-Yosef retired two weeks ago as director of Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital.

A senior health-care official said on Thursday: "This is a severe blow to Gamzu, and it is doubtful he'll be able to continue as director general for long."

Gamzu has not announced plans to resign, and Mor-Yosef issued a statement last night denying that he intends to replace Gamzu as director general, adding that he had complete confidence in Gamzu as director general.

According to Health Ministry officials, the treasury had approached the prime minister's bureau about replacing Gamzu.

On Thursday, Channel 2 released a tape in which Gamzu was heard speaking a few weeks ago to residents at Ichilov Hospital. Gamzu said Netanyahu had called for doctors to be brought to Israel from India to replace residents who have resigned.

Gamzu also said of the treasury: "You don't understand the level of the manipulations, the mafia-like level, the level of aggression against everyone working with them ... Just note that they have already asked that I be fired and have asked it a number of times over the past year ... without Litzman I would be somewhere else."

A few minutes before the broadcast aired, the Health Ministry announced Mor-Yosef's appointment. "The move was made with Gamzu's consent. Mor-Yosef will answer to the deputy health minister. Gamzu will continue in his position as director general. The deputy minister stands behind the director general of his ministry and rejects attempts to harm his standing."

Gamzu issued a statement last night, apologizing if his remarks "implied the intention to hurt the prime minister. Netanyahu's contribution to the health-care system is admirable."

On Thursday, senior treasury official said that Gamzu should be replaced because he is collaborating with the residents in their fight, and on Thursday rumors began to circulate that Mor-Yosef had been offered Gamzu's job. However, Mor-Yosef told Haaretz he had no intention of becoming health ministry director general.

Another reason sources say the Finance Ministry is working to oust Gamzu is his refusal to fire the director general of Rambam Medical Center, Prof. Rafael Beyar and its deputy director, Prof. Shimon Reisner.

On Thursday morning, Reisner was summoned to a hearing at Gamzu's office in Jerusalem, after he refused the Health Ministry order to fire 10 of the 20 residents who submitted their resignations this week, and not to allow them the usual month-long waiting period.

The Rambam doctors committee threatened to strike if the dismissals went through. The doctors at Ichilov and Sheba Hospital said they would join the strike.

The Rambam doctors who resigned were veteran physicians, and firing them suddenly would harm patient treatment.

Beyar cut short a working visit to the United States to return to Israel Thursday night.

A senior official in the health-care system told Haaretz that the Finance Ministry's actions were "a putsch," adding ... "if you don't toe the Finance Ministry's line you pay with your head."

The Finance Ministry denied the allegation.

Only a few hours before the statements were released, Gamzu and Mor-Yosef were seen talking together at the same table at a conference of senior health officials at the Dead Sea.

Gamzu also said in remarks at the conference that "there might be people at the treasury or perhaps elsewhere who want another director general, more of a conformist, not opinionated... It's not terrible if he's less energetic, less talented. Someone who fires hospital heads in an instant ..."

Sources close to Netanyahu told Haaretz on Thursday that "Netanyahu was personally involved in attempts to find a solution all along. Mor-Yosef has been appointed project manager and he believes the first step to reaching an agreement is to obey the law so as not to endanger the lives of patients ... Netanyahu believes the budgetary framework must be maintained so as not to put economic stability at risk," the statement said.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: מור יוסף ימונה ל"יועץ", לא ל"פרוייקטור"