Starting on Wednesday, the nation’s hospital doctors are required to punch time clocks, or register their start and end of work, via a special cellular phone program.

This implements a section of the Israel Medical Association agreement with the government reached last August.

Earlier this week, the Health Ministry issued instructions to all hospital directors that they introduce work-monitoring systems.

The ministry said on Wednesday night that 60 percent of government hospital doctors, and a similar rate in Clalit Health Services hospitals, clocked in as required.

Reasons for refusal include a “protest” against the requirement. “We hope that as time goes on, the problems will be solved and disagreements settled,” the spokeswoman said.

Hundreds of physicians have said they would refuse to comply, even though it could mean the loss of overtime payment.

Punching time clocks was a demand of the Treasury in reaching a deal following months of strikes and sanctions in 2011.

Treasury officials suggested that during some of the time that doctors were supposed to be in hospitals, they were off campus doing private medical work.

Hundreds of doctors at the Rabin, Meir, Wolfson, Rambam and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centers and other institutions have reportedly decided not to cooperate because time-clock use for doctors was “demeaning” and not suited to their profession.

Hospitals in Jerusalem, where senior physicians are in hospitals for many long hours a day, because they are allowed to give private medical services, have not announced what they would do about time clocks.

Meanwhile, Dr. Chezy Levy, who until last week was head of the Health Ministry’s medical administration and now is director- general of Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, replacing the retiring Dr. Shimon Scherf, started work Wednesday by placing his employee card in the machine.

Ilan Bombach, chairman of the Association for Medicine and Law, said that doctors’ punching a time clock will produce the much-needed data on how many hours a day doctors are at a patient’s disposal in public medical institutions.

"There is no more efficient way to assess and manage manpower than a time clock, and its introduction is a major positive change for specialists, medical residents and patients," he said.

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