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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Even before he formally takes over the Health Ministry as deputy minister, United Torah Judaism MK Ya'acov Litzman says he wants to beef up hospital staffing on weekends.
"I think the fact that on weekends, and even before weekends - from Thursday night - there are hardly any doctors or staff in hospitals is wrong," he told the Knesset TV Channel on Sunday. "I'd like to change that. It will be done through dialogue, however."
Litzman did not offer any suggestions to change the situation he described.
Asked to comment, Shaare Zedek Medical Center director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy said he had not heard the statement and could not be sure exactly what the deputy minister referred to.
"However, I think he meant that on Friday, significantly fewer elective operations and treatments are carried out. In Shaare Zedek, of which Deputy Minister Litzman is a good friend and has visited regularly [partly because he served as Knesset Finance Committee chairman and lives in Jerusalem], we have between 115 percent to 120% occupancy on weekdays that goes down to 100% on weekends.
"That is not a major difference. The time when there were long queues for many procedures has passed, so there is not so much pressure to take advantage of every minute in the hospital."
Many doctors work a five-day week due to work agreements, and there are fewer staffers of all kinds on weekends. Taking off on Friday has become a norm for some.
"But just last Friday, we took care of 200 people who came to our emergency room," said Halevy.
"Even if the full complement of doctors and other staffers does not fill the hospital on weekends, there are dozens of duty doctors there and senior physicians who are on call when needed," he added.
He noted that there were fewer patients in the hospital on weekends partly because some elective patients preferred to be at home on Shabbat and holidays. Jewish doctors are permitted by Halacha to work on Shabbat and festivals, but then there are also a larger number of non-Jews on duty.
If the Health Ministry wants to encourage more work on Friday, more money will obviously be needed, Halevy concluded.
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