Health Ministry drops opposition to video cams in geriatric institutions

Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman expressed his commitment to fight abuse of elderly patients in geriatric institutions.

By JUDY SIEGEL
August 9, 2017 18:24
2 minute read.
hospital

Long empty hospital corridor (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Health Ministry has zigzagged on its policy for the third time, dropping its opposition to the installation of video cameras in geriatric institutions.

After being “shocked and shaken” in February by images broadcast on Channel 2 of elder abuse at the Neot Kipat Hazahav geriatric home in Haifa, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said he would take a number of measures to fight such abuse, including requiring video cameras, as well as increasing the number of ministry inspectors making surprise visits.

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But since then, Litzman changed his views and opposed the installation of cameras to monitor goings-on in the institutions.

MK Itzik Shmuli of the Zionist Union initiated a private member’s bill that would require video cameras to be installed. But Litzman remained opposed. Asked to explain why Litzman suddenly objected to the idea and why the ministry has now again changed its policy, ministry spokesman Eyal Basson did not comment.

Shmueli, however, said he was pleased that the ministry has “finally dropped its objection” to installing cameras.

“We have managed to unite more than 80 MKs around this important aim – despite Health Ministry opposition, and said the bill would be advanced with its help or without,” Shmuli said. “The cameras will help reduce the violence in nursing institution, but they are only part of the solution. Now we aim to promote the most important legislation – a bill for national geriatric nursing coverage.”

The Zionist Union MK said in February that “patients have turned into human punching bags exposed to beatings and being tied and abused.”

Suddenly, on Wednesday, the Health Ministry issued a statement saying that “at the initiative of Minister Litzman, a memorandum for a bill to require the installation of video cameras in old-age institutions was presented. No one can remain apathetic to this abuse of the helpless. An institution that does not install cameras according to the new law will not have a license and will be closed down.”

Litzman added that he would demand that the Treasury allocate money to cover the costs. “These images must not return. We will honor and ensure the security of our grandfathers and grandmothers,” he said. The cameras, to be set up in both public and private spaces in the institutions, would not only prevent violence but also identify cases of abuse and provide evidence for investigation and punishment, the minister said.


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