Israel to Reward Specialist Doctors Who Move to the Country’s Periphery

The state will lay out $9 million in a bid to alleviate shortages in various fields, including family practitioners

FILE PHOTO: A wounded Syrian receives medical care at the intensive care unit of Ziv Hospital in Safed, February 6, 2014.
Gil Eliahu

The government is offering grants of up to 750,000 shekels ($207,000) to senior specialist doctors who agree to work in outlying parts of the country – the largest such grant the state has ever offered physicians.

The money will go to professionals in specific fields following a review of hospitals’ needs. Specialists with more than 10 years of experience are eligible for the full 750,000; others can still receive up to 550,000 shekels.

Among the professionals eligible are surgeons who agree to work at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, a pediatric neurologist who agrees to work at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, an oncologist who transfers to Emek Medical Center in Afula, a brain surgeon who transfers to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, and a gynecologist who agrees to work at Yoseftal Medical Center in Eilat.

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The new criteria were published Monday by the Finance Ministry and are for doctors who started or will start work between September 2018 and the end of this year. The ministry is allocating 33 million shekels ($9 million) for such grants, including 9 million shekels for family practice specialists.

The doctors must commit to work full-time for six years and be at least 10 years before retirement. Doctors who previously received a grant are not eligible. The grant will be paid out in three parts.

Family practitioners are in short supply in Israel’s outskirts. The government has budgeted 500,000-shekel grants for doctors who agree to work in distant cities such as Eilat and Safed, and 250,000-shekel grants for those who transfer to slightly closer areas.

Grants of 150,000 to 250,000 shekels are slated for doctors in other  specialties such as geriatrics, pathology, pediatric hematology-oncology and pediatric emergency medicine.

Psychiatrists who agree to work in the country’s outskirts can receive between 500,000 and 750,000 shekels, depending on experience.

The new criteria were published after a long debate on whether the state should be paying such sums to doctors.

The state first started paying doctors extra to work in outlying areas in 2011, but the money ran out in 2014. Since then, every year the Finance Ministry and doctors’ representatives have carried out highly publicized negotiations on grants for new doctors.

The criteria are redefined every year, based on needs.