(photo credit: Avi Hayoun)
Doctors around the country began a two-day warning strike in the public health and hospital system on Tuesday after a meeting between representatives from the Finance Ministry and the Israel Medical Association (IMA) ended with no agreement on Monday.
The public health sector and hospitals around the country will operate on a reduced Shabbat schedule.
Editorial: Prevent the doctors' strike
IMA declares work dispute for public-sector
The Health Ministry said that it was working to accelerate the negotiations between the IMA and Treasury representatives. Per the request of deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman, daily meetings will be held between the two sides starting Wednesday in an effort to reach an agreement.
The IMA and the Treasury "must take public responsibility and reach a
solution which will benefit all patients," the Health Ministry said
after the meeting.
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said the
Finance Ministry has “dried up” the health system while the doctors
didn’t strike for 11 years as part of an agreement for arbitration
reached during the last round of substantial negotiations.This
time, the health system is “collapsing” due to Finance Ministry
reduction of services and failure to expand them as needed by the
growing and aging population, the IMA says.
The IMA said that the
latest round of negotiations with the Treasury continued for eight
months and ended with fruitless discussions, and that it hoped the
authorities would “wake up” to prevent the public from suffering.
Treasury reacted by saying the warning strike could have been
prevented, and that “it is preferable that the doctors focus in
advancing the negotiations or by accepting arbitration instead.”
a decade in which it committed itself not to strike, the Israel Medical
Association declared an official work dispute last month after
announcing that seven months of wage negotiations with the Treasury had
“reached a dead end.”
Eidelman said that the physicians in the
public sector had shown “enormous responsibility” by abandoning the
strike weapon for a decade – a stance made possible by the state’s
agreement to put its previous wage dispute into arbitration.
The nearly 20,000 physicians’ main significant
gains in the solution of that dispute, including the third and final
stage of payment (a 24 percent hike), were completed only a few months
ago, but last fall, the IMA revived negotiations for the next contract.
said it was not only salary problems but major problems of imbalance in
the health care system itself that made it “ill.”
The IMA head said that it was very hard for
doctors to declare a wage dispute and that they did not want to harm
patients to whom they were devoted.
But, Eidelman said, “we can’t just stand there when in the long term, the public system is liable to collapse.”
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