Doctors oversee patient.
(photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)
The Israel Medical Association (IMA) has decided to go ahead with a planned 24-hour “protest strike” at public hospitals around the country beginning Thursday morning even though the Health and Finance ministries have canceled plans to prohibit hospital department heads from taking on private work.
“[The Treasury] harms our ability to treat patients and its proposed Arrangements Bill tightens the noose around our neck,” IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said on Tuesday, demanding that all the bill’s sections that would affect the health system be canceled and that the government hold negotiations on any changes it wants to carry out, including regarding job slots and budgets.
Due to the lack of enough doctors on the job, Eidelman said the burden of long hours is worse than ever, especially on young residents learning a specialty.
The IMA also expressed opposition to a Treasury proposal to “significantly punish” with fines those hospital directors who do not meet budgetary targets. Hospitals will be penalized by not receiving development funds and money to cover the costs of drugs for patients, Eidelman said.
“This is so even though the hospital and health fund budgets are inadequate to provide 21st century medicine to the population,” he added.
The IMA also is demanding that physicians who currently are employed by “corporations” in hospitals because of government limits on the hiring of state employees be made state workers.
“Our struggle is not about salaries but conditions and budgets, hiring of doctors, shortening lines for care and advancing medicine. The health system is on a starvation diet,” Eidelman stressed.
IMA secretary-general Leah Wapner, meanwhile, claimed that it is widely agreed that the Finance Ministry’s proposed Arrangements Bill will bring about troubles without any benefit.
“When we looked at the proposed expansion of the health basket [from an additional NIS 300 million to NIS 550m.], we saw that the new tax on the health funds’ supplementary health insurance policies will not expand the basket of medical technologies, but rather reduce the state’s participation in the basic basket [of services].”
The strike, which will run from 8 a.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday, will be the association’s first work action since it signed a new contract with the employers following a lengthy strike.
Doctors will not walk off the job completely during the work action, but will refuse to carry out anything but emergency procedures, and there will be fewer of them on the wards in public general, psychiatric, geriatric and rehabilitation hospitals – those owned and run by the Health Ministry, as well as those run by Clalit Health Services and voluntary hospitals (except Laniado, in Netanya, which put a no-strike clause in all its workers’ contracts.)
According to the reduced Shabbat schedule by which the hospitals will operate, only urgent dialysis, intensive care, emergency departments, delivery rooms, cancer wards and post-natal intensive care units will work normally. A special IMA exceptions committee will decide whether to give in-vitro fertilization treatments in specific cases.