Doctors residents x-ray 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
After nine months of labor troubles, the health system returned to worrying
about patients on Thursday instead of about physicians.
of hospital residents signed an agreement with the Treasury amending the
collective agreement the Israel Medical Association (IMA) signed at the end of
August, which had not satisfied hundreds of the young physicians studying a
“The new agreement is good for everybody, and now we
have to get back to work,” Dr. Chezy Levy, head of the Health Ministry’s
medical administration, told The Jerusalem Post
government – one of the employers of the residents – Levy had been at the
signing ceremony at around 3 a.m. and gone to sleep before dawn. He has spent
much of his time since March dealing with the bitter dispute with the
“The patients suffered from the lack of stability over this
time,” said Levy, referring to the on-and-off sanctions and partial strikes
carried out by the IMA as a whole and then walkouts and resignations by hospital
residents in the central region and Haifa. Residents in other parts of the
country, including the periphery, had generally been satisfied with the IMA’s
original agreement with the Finance Ministry because it gave incentives to
doctors to move to the outlying regions.
A majority of the residents
voted on Tuesday to approve the deal mediated by former Supreme Court justice
Prof. Yitzhak Zamir and University of Haifa legal expert Prof. Mordehai
Mironi, who spent two weeks trying to bring the sides to an agreement. Residents
did not regard the mediated accord as ideal, but realized they had reached a
dead end in their efforts to get a better deal through public pressure, lawsuits
and mass walkouts.
The nearly 1,000 residents will receive grants of NIS
60,000 each until the completion of their residency; a day off per week and
extra pay for Friday shifts; an additional bonus for doctors who work beyond 20
extra monthly hours in shifts; and the establishment of a follow- up committee
in 2015 to determine whether the residents’ agreement has been carried out as
planned or if changes need to be made.
In addition, hospitals that
require residents to work more than six monthly weekend or late-night shifts
will be fined.
The employers will soon order time clocks for installation
in departments so managements can determine who is on the hospital campuses
rather than moonlighting during working hours. The Treasury demanded this last
move, and while doctors furiously spoke out against it, they have now said they
The mediated agreement between the residents and the
Treasury, covering 21 pages of text, did not change the spirit or violate the
framework of the nine-year labor agreement the IMA signed in the summer, Finance
Minister Yuval Steinitz reiterated on Thursday.
Prime Minister (and
formally Health Minister) Binyamin Netanyahu, who had been strongly criticized
during the labor unrest for not getting involved, issued a statement
congratulating the sides on reaching a solution.
Levy said the fact that
outside mediators had managed to bring an end to the dispute did not mean this
unusual method should have been used from the beginning to reach an
“It doesn’t show that the Finance Ministry negotiators weren’t
good enough. Progress was made over months, but the doctors couldn’t reach an
They weren’t ripe for it.
But when the mediators
intervened, they were ready,” he said.
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman
declared that “the public and the doctors can return to the hospitals’ corridors
with a feeling of satisfaction.
The big news is that today, Israeli
doctors are again operating, catheterizing, anesthetizing, diagnosing and,
especially, choosing the right medical alternative to save
Eidelman, who held a long hunger strike last summer before the
initial agreement was inked, added that the new accord was a direct result of
the August deal.
He said that the young doctors were returning to work
with improved work conditions and pay, and he expressed gratitude to those who
had been involved in the effort. However, “there is still much work ahead of us,
and the IMA will continue to act without rest for doctors and medicine,” he