Netanyahu Instructs Finance Ministry to Raise Medical Residents' Salaries

PM offers to add thousands of shekels per month to the salaries of young doctors who work in Israel's public health system.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Finance Ministry on Monday to raise the monthly salaries of medical residents working in the public health system by thousands of shekels.

The proposal was brought forth by Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman during intensive discussions with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz regarding the crisis in Israel's health system, after hundreds of medical residents announced a mass resignation earlier Monday.

Benjamin Netanyahu - Emil Salman - 10.9.2011
Emil Salman

The proposal was rejected by the medical residents.

"The goal of the offer is to better the financial condition of the residents and to improve the public health system for the citizens of Israel," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

On Monday morning, the State Prosecution sought an urgent injunction against the mass resignation, claiming it will cause "irreversible damage" to the public and the health system.

Medical residents, mass resignation
Hadar Cohen

Earlier, representatives of Israel's protesting medical residents urged Netanyahu to "show leadership" and solve the issues pertaining to their working conditions, after talks with the Finance Ministry broke down. At least 313 residents failed to arrive at work on Monday morning, amid threats of mass resignation.

Dr. Oren Feldman, a resident at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, told a press conference in Tel Aviv that the residents are "in a difficult state of despair."

"I urge Netanyahu, please intervene and solve the crisis," said Feldman. "As long as there is no substantial offer, there is no point in renegotiating with the treasury. As for me, from the moment I resign, I do not intend to look back."

On Sunday, representatives of the medical residents walked out of a meeting with the treasury and the Israel Medical Association.

The residents claimed when they left the meeting that no substantive headway was being made to resolve outstanding issues pertaining to their working conditions. The meeting was meant to last until 10:00 P.M. on Sunday, however the residents cut the meeting short.

"The only proposal the treasury put forward was to take the money that was set aside to help the periphery, and move them to hospitals in the center of the country,” one of the representatives said.

The medical residents rejected the proposal immediately, and renewed their call for a mass resignation to take place on Monday.