Israeli Resident Doctors Enter Marathon Talks Ahead of Scheduled Resignations

State Prosecutor's Office asks National Labor Court to consider issuing order prohibiting residents from quitting.

Talks will resume this morning in an effort to keep hundreds of medical residents from quitting Monday at midnight.

The talks, which will take place in the offices of the Israel Medical Association and are being sponsored by the Prime Minister's Office, will continue until Monday at 1 P.M. If they stall, the State Prosecutor's Office has asked the National Labor Court to consider issuing an order prohibiting the residents from quitting.

Medical residents, mass resignation
Hadar Cohen

The residents postponed their resignation until after Yom Kippur following a compromise approved by the court Thursday night. If the court does not stop the resignations, they will go into effect 12 A.M. Tuesday.

It is believed that some 500 residents will make good on their resignations out of a total of 734 who submitted letters of resignation last month.

On Friday a meeting was held at the Finance Ministry that the parties said was "positive," although no real breakthrough was achieved.

The compromise approved by National Labor Court Judge Nili Arad also says the representatives of the young doctors cannot guarantee that all their colleagues would suspend their resignations, but they would do their best to see that most of the residents "joined the process."

The codicil stems from the fact that the resignations are individual and not a collective labor action, the residents insist.

Residents are demanding benefits and improvements to their employment conditions which would cost more than NIS 500 million above the cost of the agreement signed in August between the Israel Medical Association and the treasury. The Finance Ministry has expressed willingness to fund NIS 100 million of benefits.

Under discussion over the past few days is shortening the period until the agreement is fully applied, from nine years to four, and revisiting the agreement from time to time to assess whether additional funding is necessary.

The issues of on-call night shifts, a weekly day off and transportation to the hospital are also still under discussion.

Sources in the health care system say they believe the state will probably not be able to prohibit the resignations and will need to put hospitals on emergency footing, including canceling out-patient appointments and non-emergency surgery, obliging senior doctors to do on-call shifts and closing departments and issuing tenders to hire new doctors.