Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the solution to the financial problems of Jerusalem hospitals was to “open them to the international market” through medical tourism.

“For every bed that we market abroad, we will earn enough for a bed for Israelis,” he said at a meeting of the Jerusalem Lobby in the Knesset on Monday.

“The solution for the Hadassah Medical Organization and Shaare Zedek Medical Center is to offer medical tourism. This is the giant advantage of Jerusalem – the connection of know-how accumulated in Jerusalem hospitals that are among the best in the world – along with incentives from the government to bring medical tourists,” Barkat said. “This will put the hospitals on their feet financially. I suggest that the government start a pilot immediately so we can advance the matter.”

Asked to comment, Shaare Zedek’s director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy told The Jerusalem Post that Barkat should not have linked the two hospitals as he did.

“Hadassah has a colossal deficit. Shaare Zedek is not in this condition. It has a healthy budget, a stream of donations and it is well-managed,” he said. “We have not asked the government for money.

“But it is true that unlike hospitals owned by the government and Clalit Health Services outside Jerusalem, both Hadassah and Shaare Zedek do not get funding from the government to pay for pensions, malpractice insurance and other expenses,” Halevy said.

He added that medical tourism is not the solution to Hadassah’s financial problems, as it already earns a good sum from foreign patients, but this did not save it from its NIS 250 million deficit. He noted that Shaare Zedek also accepts medical tourists, but limits the number of patients from abroad so that they do not come at the expense of Israeli ones.

Halevy said he would ask the mayor’s office to correct his suggestion that Hadassah and Shaare Zedek were in the same financial boat.

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