Hospital beds 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Health Ministry conceded on Wednesday that there is a serious shortage of
medical manpower in the public psychiatric service it runs, especially in the
treatment of children and teenagers. The charge was made in Tuesday’s meeting of
the Knesset Committee for Children’s Rights by chairman MK Zevulun Orlev
(Habayit Hayehudi) as well as others attending the session.
has not learned its lesson from the Carmel Forest fire tragedy,” Orlev said.
“There, the development and reform of the Fire Service was held back. The
Treasury regards the mental-health service as a hostage until reform
A 40 percent decrease in beds for minors in psychiatric
hospitals has occurred during the last 15 years, according to data provided by
the Knesset research and information department. Dr. Igor Barash, the
deputy head of the Health Ministry’s mental-health services said that when
National Health Insurance began in 1995, structural reform was carried out and
200 hospital beds were eliminated in the hope that patients would be treated in
the community. He added that the government thought more community facilities
would be constructed, replacing many of the inpatient facilities. But solutions
were not found, especially for children and teenagers.
Rappaport of the Child Psychiatry Society, said that there are 170 pediatric
psychiatrists in the country.
“When a child comes for treatment in a
clinic, I allocate a year’s care for him.
Priority is given for serious
cases, and ‘light’ cases such as parents‚ divorce or criminality have to wait
long months while the problems get more serious,” she said.
discharged from psychiatric hospitals are given drugs that stabilize them, but
they need continued treatment, and in many cases, the health funds do not
approve the recommended medications.”
The health insurers approve
psychiatric drugs only for those with psychosis or schizophrenia, and not those
with behavioral problems, she said.
Orlev said that the committee will
make a surprise visit to facilities that treat children and have another
committee session on the matter in six months. The committee criticized the
Treasury’s approach of holding back reform because of a 15-year dispute over the
status of these services. It also discovered problems of coordination between
the Health Ministry and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, Orlev
National Council of the Child head Dr. Yitzhak Kadman said that
state treatment of mentally disturbed children and youths was “shocking” and
that facilities are “collapsing.”
The Health Ministry said it is working
to advance the reform in which the health funds would provide psychiatric
services instead of the ministry, which has inadequate budgets for such an
undertaking. Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman previously had opposed the
reform, but he said he reluctantly agreed to it almost two years ago. But it has
not yet been implemented due to Treasury opposition.
To provide more
pediatric psychiatrists, the ministry said it added 34 more job slots in the
last few years and recognized pediatric psychiatry as a “specialty with
inadequate manpower,” offering salary bonuses to doctors who specialize in it.