The National Labor Court issued permanent injunctions against medical residents
on Wednesday morning, ordering them to return to work immediately.
President Nili Arad, Judge Varda Wirth Livne and Judge Ronit Rosenfeld accepted
the state’s request to annul resignation letters submitted by medical residents,
and ruled that the resignations were organized and collective in nature and thus
residents: Resignations may be unstoppable
residents agree to postpone resignation by 48 hours
Failure to report to work would constitute an unauthorized
abandonment by doctors of their jobs, and subject them to the appropriate
consequences, the judges said.
In Wednesday’s ruling, Arad said that the
country faced “the most difficult and severe time in the history of Israel’s
public health system.”
Arad said the past few months have seen an
“unprecedented upheaval in Israel’s health system” that reached its peak on
Tuesday as 387 doctors from nine of the busiest and largest hospitals in the
country resigned their posts.
A further wave of 700 resignations was
expected that would lead to the complete collapse of the hospitals, seriously
endangering human life, she said.
“This state of affairs is nothing less
than a personal tragedy for medical residents and a general tragedy for the
healthcare system as a whole and for the public,” Arad said.
previously asked residents and the state to do everything in their power to
reach an agreement through negotiations, saying that a legal ruling would be “a
State officials, hospital administrators and health service
managers had expressed a willingness for dialogue, Arad said.
those negotiations failed and the court had no choice but to issue a legal
ruling, she added.
Doctors had rejected Prime Minister (and Health
Minister) Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposal – first raised weeks ago – to add
“thousands of shekels a month” to the wages of residents if they signed a
commitment to work only in public institutions, and not in private ones as well
to earn more. But the residents said that the offer didn’t address them or their
“Unfortunately, [the young] doctors’ representatives made it
clear that under the circumstances they do not believe in the negotiations
process and have insisted on resigning,” Arad said.
came after a nine-hour hearing that began late on Sunday afternoon and ran until
early Monday morning, and in response to the state’s urgent request for
injunctions after doctors expressed their intentions to resign.
Sunday’s court hearing, doctors and Mirsham – Residents for Quality Healthcare,
the voluntary organization representing some medical residents that organized
the first mass-resignation campaign in September, argued that the current
resignations were personal and therefore legitimate.
The Israel Medical
Association, the official workers association representing physicians, said in
court on Sunday that it did not agree with the young doctors conduct and that
the IMA had done everything in its power to convince medical residents that
resigning was not the right way to improve public health or doctors’ working
The state contended that the doctors had participated in a “strike
in disguise” to put pressure on their employers.
Dr. Eran Halperin,
director of Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, told the court on Sunday that the
resignations represented a “black day for the healthcare system.”
if their motives are correct, the way the young doctors are going about this is
unacceptable to me, and their methods are extreme, disproportionate and
violent,” he said. “I think all parties will regret this one
Halperin said that the doctors meant to create “social pressure” by
Also during Sunday’s hearing, Health Ministry directorgeneral
Prof. Roni Gamzu told the court that the situation, particularly in Ichilov,
Rambam and Meir hospitals, was desperate and noted that one hospital had been
forced to delay oncological surgeries for months.
Gamzu said the
resignations were a “coordinated and organized protest, a general
More than 700 doctors, mostly medical residents from
government-run hospitals in the center of the country, submitted resignations to
take effect in October.
In its request for injunctions, the state said
the resignations “would endanger human life, bodily integrity and public
Arad emphasized in Wednesday’s ruling that the issue of whether
doctors were right to make further financial demands was not in question, and
the court had ruled only on whether their resignations were legitimate under
collective labor law.
In the ruling, Arad noted that doctors had felt
disappointment, frustration and anger about their work conditions.
this context, let it be clear – on a personal level, dissatisfaction with work
conditions under a collective agreement can certainly be legitimate grounds for
resignation,” she said.
However, the collective nature of the
resignations rendered them illegitimate and in breach of doctors’ obligations to
collective agreement clauses on conflict cessation, the judge
“We are confident that doctors will report to work, continue
there and will fulfill their duties as required,” Arad said.Judy Siegel
contributed to this report.