Strike Brings Israel’s Public Health System to a Standstill

All government general, psychiatric and geriatric hospitals strike; outpatient clinics and departments in these hospitals will closed to outpatients, only urgent operations performed.

The Israel Medical Association called a strike Sunday by doctors at government hospitals and by physicians for Clalit Health Services. Meanwhile, negotiations over a new labor contract are to continue throughout the day, in an effort to reach an agreement before Monday’s hearing at the High Court of Justice.

The strike affecedt all government general, psychiatric and geriatric hospitals. Outpatient clinics and departments in these hospitals were closed to outpatients, and only urgent operations were performed.

Ronni Gamzu - Emil Salman - 14082011
Emil Salman

Sunday’s strike also includde all Clalit community physicians, family clinics and specialists’ clinics. The nurses’ stations in Clalit clinics and emergency centers provided medical care to members of that health maintenance organization Sunday.

General practitioners demonstrated this morning at Kikar Hamedina in Tel Aviv. According to a circular issued over the weekend, family practice physicians are demanding 15 minutes per patient visit, instead of the current 10 minutes, as well as a reduction in the patient-doctor ratio and increased resources to community medical services in the country’s outskirts.

The circular stressed the importance to public health of increasing the number of hours for patient care by physicians in the community.

Clalit’s management, for its part, claimed that the IMA reneged last week on agreements that had been reached earlier regarding the work hours of physicians in the community. It complained that the organization’s negotiators leave the bargaining table in the afternoon instead of pushing on.

Negotiating teams worked until late last night, and one participant said an effort is being made to come to an agreement before Monday.

The main outstanding differences are over the scope of the wage hike for physicians and how it will be apportioned over the lifetime of the contract. The IMA wants the whole salary increase to be given in the next three years.

Over the weekend, Health Ministry Director General Ronni Gamzu appealed to residents to halt their sanctions.