Knesset panel asked to ‘end criminal medical experiment'

By
December 1, 2010 04:45

Experiment said to be "on a million children a year"; fury shown over privatization of school health services.

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The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Tuesday strongly condemned the government’s privatization of school health services, which put the Nataly company in charge instead of Health Ministry nurses. They said that the terms of the contract, allowing only 30 seconds for a Nataly nurse to open and study a pupil’s medical file and requiring them to examine 60 pupils daily, was scandalous.

Acting committee head MK Rachel Adatto (Kadima) said the time limits don’t give nurses time even to exchange a word with each child. She said the committee would work hard to restore public responsibility for school health services.

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While a Health Ministry official said this timetable was reasonable, Israel Council for the Child director Dr.Yitzhak Kadman said it was “criminal, a mass medical experiment on a million children a year.”

Adatto, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) and MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Israel Beitenu) presented a bill that would require the ministry to retake responsibility for the school health services instead of the Treasury-mandated privatization.

Yacimovich noted that the nurses have time only for vaccinations and not for providing health exams and education; when children are hurt, parents must take them home.

“We are getting anonymous letters of complaints from Nataly nurses who say they are afraid to give their name but say the work demands on them are impossible.”

Another MK sarcastically suggested “importing robots from China to replace the nurses.”

Representing the Treasury’s budgets division, Yair Zilbershatz said the committee discussion was “not serious. The nurses are earning nicely. Let’s let Nataly continue to work.”

Yacimovich countered, “Don’t be rude, and don’t give us grades. The nurses are earning like cleaning workers, and there’s no surprise that many of them refuse to work as contractors’ employees.”

Physicians for Human Rights, the Israel Medical Association, the Association for Civil Rights and the National Parents Organization all called on the Health Ministry to immediately restore its responsibility for the service instead of agreeing to a “privatization experiment on the children.” They said Nataly regards its work in the schools as an “assembly line.”

Nataly CEO Yariv Lerner maintained that his company had actually improved school health services and would meet the goals it was assigned by the government.


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