Litzman: I don’t know why doctors are still striking

Main points remaining in dispute that can be resolved include wages for senior, junior physicians, use of time clock and other issues.

August 12, 2011 01:09
3 minute read.
Deputy Health Minister Yaacov Litzman [file]

Litzman 311. (photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH)

Four months after the Israel Medical Association’s labor dispute began and a week after a “breakthrough” ended IMA chief Dr. Leonid Eidelman’s 12-day hunger strike, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said Thursday that he didn’t know why the doctors are still striking.

“I don’t understand... at first, they wanted more job slots for doctors, and they got it. They wanted to reduce the number of night and weekend shifts, and they got it. I have a feeling that something got derailed along the way,” he said.

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“The labor court decided that the IMA represents them, but they don’t abide by its decisions. One can’t hold negotiations simultaneously with several organizations. I am sorry that hospitals in the center of the country are helping to continue the strike,” said the United Torah Judaism MK.

“This is very wrong and improper. It is unthinkable that hospital directors will back a strike that hurts patients so badly. Now there are even medical residents who want to be included in private medical services [Sharap, which is legal only among very senior doctors in Jerusalem hospitals]. Nu, really!” Litzman continued.

The main points of conflict remaining before the dispute can be resolved include wages for senior and junior physicians, the use of a time clock and other issues.

Health Ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu assembled the directors of all the government hospitals – general, psychiatric and geriatric – late Wednesday night, and asked them to “show responsibility” and calm down the residents, whose demands have been the main stumbling block preventing a settlement.

Over 1,000 residents and over 100 specialists have signed resignations that are due to go into effect in three weeks; if the strike does not end by then, chaos would erupt without them on duty.

Gamzu said the hospital directors are found to gather the residents together and explain their obligations to the patients. He added that the negotiations “must be continued with logic and responsibility.

The ministry,” he stressed, “will not accept extreme actions shown by the residents. But at the same time, the ministry regards the junior physicians as an inseparable part of the IMA.”

Litzman was speaking at an event organized by Tikshoov, a company that hires haredi women in Bnei Brak to work at its call centers, along with Kupat Holim Meuhedet’s new director-general Prof. Asher Elhayani and Tikshoov’s director Boaz Sofer. The company intends to hire hundreds of additional haredi women to work for them.

The deputy health minister, a Gur hassid, said: “Haredi women give all they have to work. Their high work ethic and the need to support their families financially makes them excellent employees. They do not demonstrate in tents, not because their financial situation is good – the opposite is true, as their economic status is every more severe – but demonstrations are not their way.”

Litzman stressed the gap in life expectancy between the center and the periphery – some three or four years, because of lower income and inadequate access to medical services in the outlying areas. He said he hoped that at the end of the strike, this imbalance would change.

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