Health Ministry director-general Ronni Gamzu issued a stern written
warning on Tuesday to directors of voluntary public hospitals where private
medical services are permitted not to allow doctors to get paid directly by
either foreign or Israeli patients.
Instead, the money must go to the
hospital itself. In addition, he stated that in hospitals owned by the ministry
or Clalit Health Services, payment by local or foreign patients to choose a
specific doctor is prohibited.
But at the same time, doctors in the
public health system may refer patients in their private practice, outside
public hospitals, for treatment in public institutions, and “this should be
regarded positively,” Gamzu wrote. But at the same time, there must be no
statement or promise, hinted or outright, that the doctor who referred the
patient would give “personal supervision” for a personal fee at the public
Private medical services (sharap) are legal and traditional in
all of Jerusalem’s medical centers, and at Netanya’s Laniado Medical Center,
because they are owned by voluntary organizations and not by the government or
by Clalit Health Services.
Sharap is forbidden at all other public
In hospitals where Sharap is allowed, patients have the right
to choose the physician they want to consult with or who will operate on them,
but they are not entitled to be pushed ahead of non-paying Israeli patients
waiting in the queue, Gamzu said.
Gamzu said that these, and other, rules
had been stated before by the ministry and that he was reiterating them. But
experts well familiar with the hospital system say they are violated frequently
by under-the-table payments, shorter queues and other arrangements.
ministry’s professional administrators have been trying to regulate arrangements
over medical tourism, but this has been opposed by politicians in the government
so as not to “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.”
misdealings were raised by Channel 2’s Uvda investigatory program a week ago. It
claimed that three senior surgeons at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, where
Sharap is not allowed, charged foreign tourists high fees for operating on them
in the public hospital.
The three insisted they were paid for extra
services carried out in their private offices and not for the
Gamzu wrote that medical staffers in public hospitals must “not
confuse their private work outside the public hospital, especially in their
private practices, with their public work in the hospital.”
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