The doctors’ struggle for a reorganization of the health system, increased
manpower and higher wages will take “many more weeks and even months,” Israel
Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said on Sunday for the first
Sanctions in the hospitals and the community health fund clinics
have been intermittent over the past six weeks; negotiations with senior Finance
Ministry bureaucrats have also been intermittent, fruitless and sometimes
Death rates from melanoma down
Strike by public hospital doctors likely after Pessah
The IMA, which has around 20,000 members in public medicine,
held a conference on pathology at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and
presented data on the difficulties in the field. The severe shortage of
pathologists – who work behind the scenes in public hospitals and have no
opportunities in private practice – has put a heavy burden on existing
specialists, especially in the diagnosis of cancer.
“The State of Israel
has moved to medicine of... putting out fires. There is no future if we do not
bring about change,” Eidelman said.
“The Treasury has dug in its heels.
It doesn’t believe that the condition of public medicine is so bad that doctors
are leaving the country, moving to private medicine and even leaving the
profession,” the IMA chairman added.
On Independence Day on Tuesday, the
IMA will hold events in public parks where large numbers of people will spend
the holiday. Activities will be held between 10 a.m.
and 1 p.m. at the
National Park in Ramat Gan, Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, Ben-Shemen Forest, Eshkol
Park and the Carmel Forest.
There are only 119 working pathologists in
the country, and 60 percent are aged 50 and over. In five years, said Eidelman,
the number of specialists in the field will decline by 10%.
Ziv-Ner, deputy chairman of the IMA and head of the State Doctors Union, said
that manpower slots were set for pathology in 1976 and the figure is no longer
In its talks with the Treasury, the IMA has asked for a special
benefits package that would improve salaries rather than reduce them when
pathologists are away from their hospital jobs on study leave or on
There are only 1.96 pathologists per 100,000 residents in
Israel, compared to 4.43 in the US, added Dr. Yehudit Zandenbank of Assaf
Harofeh Medical Center, who is chairman of the Pathologists
“Here, they conduct twice as many pathology tests as abroad.
This opens the possibility of errors in cancer patients, which can be critical
for them. The situation is even worse in peripheral hospitals than in the center
of the country.”
Prof. Iris Barshek, director of Sheba’s pathology
institute, said that while most people think that most of the pathologists’ work
is autopsies, only a small number do this; most work on live patients and
diagnose tumors and determine treatment such as surgery.