Heath Ministry prepares plan to cope with manpower shortage

80% of resignation letters signed by medical residents and specialists in protest of new labor agreement would take effect Oct. 4-8.

doctor strike haifa_311 (photo credit: Piotr Fliter/Ramban Medical Center)
doctor strike haifa_311
(photo credit: Piotr Fliter/Ramban Medical Center)
If hundreds of medical residents and two dozen specialists resign within a few weeks to protest the new labor agreement, the most affected departments will be internal medicine (129 resignations), pediatrics (70), orthopedics (67), obstetrics/gynecology (57) and general surgery (41).
The Health Ministry’s medical branch said Monday that 80 percent of the resignation letters, signed in early September, would take effect between October 4 and October 8, after Rosh Hashana. A total of 702 resignations were submitted by medical residents and 32 medical specialists.
The hospitals where they work are Tel Aviv Sourasky (142 resignation letters); Rambam Medical Center in Haifa (102); Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer (100); Meir in Kfar Saba (100); Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva (71); Bnei Zion in Haifa (41); Assaf Harofeh in Tzrifin (33); Wolfson in Holon (31); Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva (30); Hadassah University Medical Centers in Jerusalem (24); Kaplan in Rehovot (11); Emek Medical Center in Afula (7); Carmel Medical Center in Haifa (4); Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba (1); Shalvata Mental Health Center in Beer Ya’acov (5).
Medical branch head Dr. Chezy Levy has prepared detailed plans for dealing with such a crisis, if it occurs.
Outpatient clinics will minimize their services; the number of nurses and midwives in obstetrics departments will be increased; and non-emergency operations will be reduced to a minimum.
Departments that have a serious shortage of manpower will be assisted by duty doctors in the community.
Senior doctors will do work that residents usually do. Even pensioner physicians could be called in to help. Additionally, vacations by department heads and other senior doctors will be canceled in the eventuality of resignations.
Levy said that the departments and services that are most urgent and cannot be affected by resignations include delivery departments, internal medicine, oncology, in-vitro fertilization, chemotherapy, dialysis and operations for which patients have been waiting for more than three months.
The Health Ministry’s situation room will operation around the clock.
A senior ministry official said it was unfortunate that residents and others who signed resignation letters were so adamant about trying to abrogate the labor agreement signed in late August between the Treasury (and other employers) and the Israel Medical Association, as it could not be canceled.
He said that residents should be mature and sit down to talk to try to reach an understanding, and that the young doctors were mistaken if they thought they could all resign and find work in biotech in Israel or other meaningful positions.