Israel Medical Association head: Spend surplus income on collapsing health system

Chairman of IMA Dr. Leonid Eidelman sent his demands over the weekend to Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

November 18, 2013 22:24
1 minute read.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

Lapid looking sharp 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The NIS 12.5 billion “surplus” in taxes and royalties collected by the government should be spent as a much needed investment in the public health system before it collapses, said Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman.

The physician sent his demands over the weekend to Finance Minister Yair Lapid, saying that there are deficits in the public hospitals, the health funds and all other institutions in the medical system, causing them all to be at risk of financial collapse.

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“There isn’t a single public hospital in the country that isn’t forced to struggle daily with financial problems that affect the level of treatment,” he told Lapid. “Patients wait in queues for unbearable amounts of time. Tests and operations are canceled or unavailable to many patients. Hospitals are forced to reduce their supply of necessary equipment and drugs to patients.”

Eidelman said that the shortages have plagued the health system for years.

“But the situation is getting worse and worse. The health funds are bogged down with budget deficits that don’t allow them to provide the best care,” Eidelman said.

“There is a shortage of hospital beds the like of which does not exist anywhere in the developed world.

There is also a terrible shortage of doctors and nurses that has created heavy and inhuman burdens on medical staffers who do holy work day and night.”

Eidelman said that the winter is approaching, posing even more risks to the health system because of flu complications and overcrowding in the hospitals.

“If the system has difficulty coping with this, how will it be able to manage with a major security catastrophe that could happen any day?” he asked.

Public health expenditures, only 7.7 percent of the gross domestic product, is among the lowest in the developed world. In Europe, it is 10%, while in the US, it has reached more than twice Israel’s rate – 16%, said Eidelman.

“We doctors of Israel call on the government to change its priorities.

It must allocate the necessary resources that it has in the Treasury to urgent investment in the public health system,” he said.

Asked to comment, Pnina Shalev, the personal spokeswoman and adviser of Health Minister Yael German said that “she prefers to do and not to talk.”

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