Inadequate supervision of donations to hospitals; shortage of flying ambulance
services; failure to curb obesity among children and adults; a lack of attention
given to elderly patients.
These were among the shortcomings of the
Health Ministry raised by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss in a 61-chapter
report to Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.
The report tackles a
wide-range of government activities, but two chapters on healthcare – one about
the ministry and one about the elderly – were largely “welcomed” by the senior
The Israel Medical Association, which is in the midst
of strikes and sanctions by doctors over wages, working conditions and other
issues, said the comptroller’s criticism was “required reading” and a “wake-up
call” for Treasury negotiators over IMA demands.
The IMA was especially
incensed over the section on the shortage of hospital beds and manpower, which
the Treasury has dismissed in its talks with the doctors.
maintained that the report was proof that their demands were legitimate and
accurately characterized the public health system.
What the government
has offered is “too late and too little,” IMA chairman Leonid Eidelman said.
“The Treasury is disconnected from reality.”
The comptroller said the
lack of proper hospitalization facilities and medical staffers was “very
serious.” He praised doctors and nurses for working devotedly in the wards
despite the obstacles of overcrowding and staff shortage.
implementation of ministry promises for improvements are taking too long, the
comptroller said, and the country must adopt the health standards set by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The ministry also
came under attack for allegedly not supervising properly “donations” by
patients, foundations, commercial firms and others to public
The fact that some patients give financial gifts to voluntary
organizations in the hospitals raised the possibility that those who donate
receive preferred treatment, the comptroller said.
Even though the
ministry issued an advisory that patients may not donate during hospitalization,
the practice continues, Lindenstrauss said.
In addition, the ministry has
failed to prevent these donating organizations from paying the salaries of some
hospital staffers. They were permitted only to finance the work of researchers,
the comptroller said.
Flying ambulance services have been intermittent
and not equitable in all regions, Lindenstrauss said. Strict criteria and
uniform standards for medical personnel and companies that provide the services
must be established, he said.
Although the ministry established a team to
promote “Healthy Israel 2020,” not enough is being done to ensure proper
nutrition in schools and the IDF, the comptroller charged. The ministry does not
monitor the obesity epidemic sufficiently, he added, and the government must
discourage food companies from producing and selling food that is damaging to
Under the report’s section on the elderly, the comptroller said
the inadequate supply of services for end-of-life palliative care at home was
due to the severe shortage of medical institutions for this purpose. In
addition, too little information is provided to families on what they are
entitled to receive to care for their loved one at home.
found that polypharmacy among the elderly – a system by which patients take a
variety of different medications – is wasteful, often ineffective and
The ministry must take specific action to deal with the
phenomenon, he said.
The ministry’s supervision of the Council for Animal
Experimentation – established in 1994 to protect animal rights while making
in-vivo testing of animals to improve patients’ medical treatment – needs to be
reorganized to reduce the number of superfluous animal experiments, the
More transparency in experiments is needed, he