Leaders of the Israel Medical Association expressed deep disappointment on
Thursday night with the more than 1,000 medical residents from hospitals around
the country who sent in signed resignations to management as a demonstrative
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The residents, who train for five years after seven years of medical
school and a year of internship, said they will give up their careers in 30
days, when the letters take effect, if they are not satisfied with the agreement
that will come out of the 138-day labor dispute.
Some of the residents
withdrew their resignation late on Thursday night, Israel Radio reported. They
said, however, that they were doing so under pressure and that they considered
that they were misrepresented by their representatives in the negotiations with
“We are very surprised and disappointed by the residents’
rejection of the IMA’s historic agreement that is being worked out with the
government and the other employers,” said Dr. Ze’ev Feldman, a deputy chairman
of the IMA, who echoed the sentiments of chairman Dr. Leonid
Feldman, a senior pediatric neurosurgeon at Sheba Medical
Center’s Safra Hospital at Tel Hashomer, has participated in the long months of
negotiations with the Treasury.
“They gave us a cold shower by reacting
to Wednesday’s breakthrough in negotiations with such fury,” declared Feldman.
“Why are they complaining, if their own chosen representative, Hadassah
University Medical Center resident Dr. Meir Mizrahi, endorsed the agreement that
is being worked out? Those who signed resignations are making the mistake of
their careers. Why don’t they believe their own representative who has been on
the IMA negotiating team from the beginning!?” Feldman said he and his IMA
colleagues hope that the long doctors’ strike will end sometime next
“The residents will eventually realize that it is an excellent
agreement. Maybe we just have to allow them to let off steam, and then they will
come around. We think that there are forces behind them who are pushing them to
extremes. Perhaps we have not explained to them enough about what we have
achieved. We send them email messages every day. The residents who tendered
their resignation seem only to protest for protest’s sake and do not accept the
facts,” Feldman said.
Dr. Miki Heifler, a representative of the Mirsham
organization of medical residents, told The Jerusalem Post that he and his
colleagues hope a solution to their demands will be reached within a
“Nobody wants to leave our profession for which we worked so hard.
But there is a limit. We insist on NIS 50 an hour for residents,” he said,
giving one of their demands.
Residents currently earn about NIS 25
hourly, but the IMA-Treasury agreement being formulated would give all doctors, including
residents, a 50 percent raise.
The residents are demanding that all the
clauses in an agreement be implemented within four years, rather than the
maximum of eight insisted on by the Treasury and agreed to by the IMA. But
Feldman said the IMA is seeing to it that the “vast majority” of the clauses be
carried out within three years. Residents who signed their resignations said
that their “hands shook” as they held their pens.
Heifler said that he
was happy about the 1,000 doctors’ job slots that the Treasury agreed to add to
“There are over 500 medical graduates a year now, and it will
increase to 600. That will help fill the ranks in specialties where there is a
The residents are also happy about the limit of six
night and weekend shifts that residents will have to work each month under the
accord, instead of the 10 or 11 that they do now.
But while Mirsham
favors the agreed-upon incentive bonus of NIS 250,000 to NIS 300,000 per
physician who will agree to move to and work in the periphery, Heifler said that
doctors who already work in the outlying parts of the country – where the level
of medicine is lower than in the center – should get such a bonus as
They also want mechanisms to be put into place that would ensure
all the Treasury’s promises will indeed be carried out.
“The IMA worked
very hard. We are behind their struggle. But we want things that
are more relevant to us than to senior doctors,” Heifler
Eidelman, who ended his 12- day hunger strike when announcing
the breakthrough on Wednesday night, sat in negotiation sessions with the
Treasury all day until 8 p.m. The intensive talks will continue.
broke his fast with juice and is now eating baby food that is easier to digest;
in a few days he will begin eating solids and normal food.
that Eidelman’s drastic decision to go on a hunger strike pushed the struggle
more into public view and helped lead to the breakthrough in
Feldman said that the 1,000 new job slots could be filled with the
600 medical graduates who will be produced annually, as well as with Israelis
who studied medicine abroad and meet Israeli standards, and Israeli emigrant
doctors who long to bring their families back home.
“I have met them,” he
said. “They want to raise their families here.”
As for finding
enough physicians to work in the periphery, the Sheba surgeon said that with
more young medical graduates, “medical facilities in the Center will fill up and
others will seek jobs in the outlying areas.”
Asked about the Treasury
demand that hospital physicians be required to punch time clocks, or use a
special cellphone system, to prove that they are indeed on the job and not doing
private work, Feldman said the IMA has long been opposed to this but is now
Many young doctors are now in favor, he added, because
they can also prove with such a system that they are doing overtime and will be
paid for it.
The Sheba neurosurgeon said that not only senior physicians
oppose the Treasury’s idea that those under age 47 work two weekend or night
shifts a month, but the residents themselves are against it.
and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman have demanded this arrangement so
that patients are not left with junior physicians on off hours. But Feldman said
“this doesn’t occur mandatorily in any country, and senior doctors who are on
call while at home are required to come to the hospital in half an hour if the
case is urgent.”
Asked about Litzman’s insistence that residents’ duty
hours be reduced from 24 to 20, Feldman said “this is not relevant. This
would not make any difference in their lives.”
He added that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who helped pave the way to the breakthrough by
inviting Eidelman to his Jerusalem residence and sending his director-general to
the Treasury to push negotiations forward, “deserves credit, not Litzman, who
pushed impractical ideas. If the prime minister is interested in something,
officials under him also become interested.
“Eighty percent of hospital
activity occurs by midnight. There are hospitals where senior doctors already
remain until then or even all night to give patients better treatment,” Feldman