MEDICAL STAFFERS at Jerusalem’s Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem discuss yesterday’s call to strike..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Israel Medical Association has declared a labor dispute against the Hadassah Medical Organization, declaring it is causing “continuing harm to its doctors and their rights.”
A joint statement by the heads of the doctors’ works committee declared that “Hadassah cannot be run by a single ‘ruler.’ If Prof. [Zeev] Rotstein [the HMO director] has not internalized this fact, he will not have an institution to run.”
The IMA announced the dispute after the doctors’ representatives failed in attempts to negotiate with Rotstein on his freezing of doctors’ academic appointments at Hadassah and harming their status.
When the IMA and the works committees signed a recovery agreement with HMO management to help it get out of its severe financial difficulties, the physicians agreed to forgo many wage benefits.
Nevertheless, management “unilaterally suspended” new academic appointments, preventing senior doctors and dentists from teaching at the Hebrew-University Medical Center and harming the medical and dental schools, the doctors charged.
The IMA and the doctors’ committees turned to HMO’s administration several times, demanding to prevent unilateral changes and stop the attacks on doctors and their rights, they continued, “but were met with a lack of cooperation on the part of hospital management on the issue.”
At the same time as the declaration of a labor dispute, the IMA and the doctors’ committees launched legal proceedings against HMO, charging the hospital management has since August failed to convene the medical committee that is responsible for appointing doctors and approving tenure to doctors. This, charged the physicians, is causing many senior doctors to leave Hadassah and seek jobs elsewhere.
The doctors said that since Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman got Rotstein, the powerful former director of Sheba Medical Center, to head HMO, “Prof. Rotstein has regarded the doctors as rivals rather than partners.
Hadassah cannot be run that way. It is our home, and we won’t let it fall again,” they said. “We want it to maintain its status as a magnet for physicians and researchers and the highest academic and medical research in Israel,” they concluded.
Asked to comment, Rotstein said that since taking office, it became clear to him that the academic schools of the university and Hadassah “create an annual deficit of NIS 70 million, most of which derive from the special conditions of academic doctors at Hadassah.”
Since no agreed-upon solution has yet been reached on this matter, the director “found himself unable to add new appointments that would only increase the deficit,” Rotstein said. “My attempt to explain to the doctors’ committees that one can’t write a check without money in the bank did not persuade them. The committees rejected all possible solutions, as they insist that HMO continue to fully finance the special conditions they enjoy that don’t exist in any other Israeli hospital. I hope and pray that the declared labor dispute will find a solution without a strike, which would only harm patients and also destroy our efforts for economic recovery.”