(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The process the Health Ministry uses to decide which medical professionals who have made aliya may receive licenses to practice here is inefficient, the Knesset Labor, Social Services and Health Committee was told on Tuesday.
The committee, headed by MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu), approved for its first reading a bill presented by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) that would set up a mechanism for immigrants to appeal the ministry’s decisions. At present, there is no appeal process in place.
“If the health system were run differently, these bills would not be presented, and we would not intervene,” Alalouf said. “The reality is that things must change. People are not making aliya because of this ministry office.”
Forer said that both new immigrants and returning Israelis are hit with difficulties in getting medical licenses.
“When they are told they can’t work in their profession, their world collapses,” he said. Those affected include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and dentists.
Eyal Flum, legal adviser of the Israel Pharmacists Association, said he came across a woman who asked to take the pharmacist assistant’s exam on the basis of a diploma she received in Belgium. The ministry rejected her request because her studies there were “not equivalent to those here,” even though Israel has no such program for the profession. When she finally received her invitation to take a ministry licensing test, it arrived after the test had already been held, he said.
Amir Nitzan, head of the pharmacists association, supported the bill, noting that immigrants and returnees lack the resources and ability to fight the establishment.
Hagai Zilberman, head of the ministry’s medical licensing field, said that every month his office approves some 1,000 licenses to work in the medical professions.