doctor protest 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Dozens of physicians spent their time off on Thursday demonstrating under the
hot sun opposite the Prime Minister’s Office, in a last desperate attempt to
head off the Finance Ministry’s economic arrangements bill, on which the cabinet
was expected to vote after midnight.
The doctors, organized by the Israel
Medical Association, said the health-related features of the bill – which is
attached to the 2011/2 draft state budget – was meant by the Treasury to
“politicize” the health system rather than improve it.
“It is an
especially cynical effort that either ridicules [medical professionals] or
demonstrates a lack of understanding of what is going on,” said IMA chairman
One of the proposals in the bill would give
non-doctors the right to supervise hospital departments and units, whose heads
would have to report on how much money – rather than how many lives – they have
saved, said Eidelman. Another would transfer control of the standard of training
of medical specialists – which is now supervised by the IMA’s Scientific Council
and comprised of eminent physicians – to Health Ministry political appointees
“Politicians will intervene, and saving money rather
than choosing the best treatment for the patients will be the rule,” Eidelman
Under the bill, patients who do not show up (or show up on time)
for doctors’ appointments would be fined up to NIS 50 each time. They would have
to make another appointment with a doctor, who would determine whether they were
too sick to come – adding to the doctor’s bureaucratic burdens.
to treat our patients and not hand out fines. And this will definitely hurt the
poor,” said Dr. Yitzhak Bar-Or, a family physician and chairman of Clalit Health
Services’ central region doctors committee.
In addition, money obtained
from government hospital doctors’ research would be taken by the state rather
than shared with the doctors, thus discouraging them from conducting research,
the IMA chairman said.
“We are in the middle of negotiating this point as
well as a new contract, and the Treasury has already decided,” he
Prof. Raphael Udassin, chief of pediatric surgery at Hadassah
University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, who came in a white baseball
cap and coat to demonstrate with colleagues, said the Treasury clearly wanted to
take control of the medical system and make decisions based on finances rather
than on what was best for the patient.
Eidelman declared that “the health
system is sick and declining. In many places, we are not giving good care. We
are diagnosing diseases too late and giving improper treatment – all because of
the terrible patient burden due to doctor and bed shortages. The government
wants to save money at the expense of the patient, who will pay
Many hospital doctors now have to work 12 to 14 overnight shifts a
month in addition to their regular work, he said.
anesthesiologist at a government hospital in the North charged that Deputy
Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman “has not been fighting for us. We don’t see eye
to eye with him. He should be defending the doctors and fighting for the health
system. The Treasury makes the decisions for him.”
He noted that the
shortages were much worse in his hospital in the periphery than at those
center of the country, which were suffering from serious problems as
Many other demonstrators also voiced severe criticism of Litzman,
who at the Knesset Health Caucus on Wednesday maintained that the next
budget would offer some pleasant surprises for the health system.
Yitzhak Ziv-Ner, chairman of the government doctors union, said that
Western countries continually expand medical technologies and services,
Israel they are constantly cut back. The economic arrangements bill
regarding health, he said, must be voted down by the cabinet because “it
contains only decrees that will cause the health system to decline even
A Treasury spokesman denied IMA’s charges and said the bill
offered changes that would improve the system. The IMA objected merely
it wanted to stay in control, the Treasury spokesman said.