Ministry: End nurse walk-outs

Health Ministry says nurses who walked out of posts at Sheba Medical Center in protest of overcrowding "harm patients."

January 10, 2012 05:32
1 minute read.
Hospital bed occupancy at 120%

Hospital Bed 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Nurses at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer walked off their posts on Monday to “protest severe overcrowding of the hospital’s internal medicine departments.”

The Health Ministry, which owns the hospital, commented that such action “harms patients at a time when the Israel Nurses’ Association is signed on a collective agreement that requires orderly work by the nurses, despite the fact that a labor dispute has not been declared as required by law.”

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The ministry said that the hospitals can not commit themselves to limit the number of patients hospitalized on any certain day because that would mean not giving some patients treatment or closing hospitals, “which does not occur in any Western country.”

The crowding of internal medicine departments is due to the fact they treat mostly elderly patients with chronic illness who – when they have not gone for influenza vaccinations, or their immune systems are not boosted enough by the shots – may suffer from complications.

The ministry said that Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and the government have committed themselves to add 1,000 hospital beds over a number of years to reduce overcrowding and add hundreds of doctors and nurses’ job slots, but the nurses’ union maintains that it is happening too slowly.

Litzman called on the nurses to halt their abandonment of their temporary wards. During a “surprise visit” he made to the emergency room at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin on Monday, Litzman said he saw the overcrowding and was impressed by the medical team’s hard work.

“Everything is under full control, and patients are getting the maximum treatment,” he said, despite the overcrowding.

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