MK Orly Levy Abecassis.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation postponed on Sunday the scheduled
discussion of a private member’s bill that would require responsibility for the
School Health Service to be transferred back to the Health Ministry from private
companies that have been declared failures.
The delay in discussing the
bill of MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Israel Beiteinu) and MK Dov Henin (Hadash) was
at the request of Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who said that a
committee he headed will “very soon” reach decisions on whether to continue
privatization of the School Health Service, which began over five years ago, or
restore it to the ministry.
The union of public health nurses said after
the decision that the ministerial committee had been due to discuss the return
to public health nurses of the service back in January 2010, but it decided to
wait “three months” until a Health Ministry committee headed by Litzman decided
what to do, as the deputy minister wants now. “Now, a year and a half later, the
ministerial committee has postponed a decision due to the same exact reason,”
the nurses’ union said.
The union said that the discussion of the private
members’ bill is due to be held in another three weeks, before the opening of
the next school year.
Last week, ministry director-general Prof. Ronni
Gamzu admitted publicly for the first time that the government erred in
privatizing the School Health Service. Gamzu, who took office a year ago, was
speaking before the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health
He told the committee that Nataly would continue running the
service privately for another school year because it had not issued a new tender
in time and lacked 300 public health nurse job slots to enable his ministry to
carry it out – if the Treasury agreed.
Privatization of school nurses’
services was initiated by the Treasury to “save money” when in fact it cost more
and significantly lowered the level of services, according to a State
Comptroller’s Report. Health Ministry officials privately objected many times to
the move but proved too weak to change the Finance Ministry’s decision, but did
not voice its opposition publicly. Since taking office two and a half years ago,
Litzman – who previously as head of the Knesset Finance Committee backed
privatization – has not come out publicly against it.
comptroller and Knesset committees have been highly critical of the
privatization, saying that a series of three private companies had failed and
not even managed to complete the vaccination of all children who should have
received their injections to protect them against infectious diseases. Beyond
vaccination, the private nurses were supposed to give health promotion
instruction and conduct health checks of all the children but never got around