Hospital beds 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hundreds of medical residents walked out of hospital departments on Tuesday, in
protest of what they claimed were the terms of an agreement to be signed by the
Israel Medical Association to end the current labor dispute of nearly 110
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The IMA said this was “only rumors.”
“No agreement has been
reached yet,” an IMA spokesman said. “They are basing themselves on talk in the
The National Labor Court in Jerusalem continued to meet all day
to try to find a solution, which has seriously disrupted medical care in
hospitals and interfered with normal functioning in community
Court President Nili Arad, who has worked intensively as a
go-between in the last few weeks, had threatened to issue restraining orders
against the doctors unless they reach an agreement. As the labor court is due to
go on vacation on Wednesday, it appeared Arad was adamant about ending the
dispute either with an agreement or court sanctions.
The IMA demands not
only wage hikes and incentives for poorly-manned specialties and medical
facilities in the periphery, but a reorganization of the healthcare system. It
also opposes the Treasury’s demands for mandatory timeclocks to prove doctors’
presence in the hospitals, rather than at other jobs or other locations during
“There is no draft agreement,” an IMA spokeswoman asserted.
“There is no agreement with the Treasury, only rumors.”
Among the rumored
parts of the “agreement,” according to media reports, are that the IMA agrees to
cellphone applications that can determine the location of doctors in real time,
instead of them formally punching a time-clock when arriving at and leaving
work; 40 to 45 percent wage increases over eight or nine years; a reduced number
of night and weekend shifts for residents; financial incentives for working in
the periphery of the country; and special incentives to encourage residents to
go into specialties that are short of doctors.
The Treasury has for
months tried to separate residents from the senior doctors, whom are part of the
IMA. It did not succeed publicly until Tuesday, when residents at Rambam, Meir,
Tel Aviv Sourasky, Sheba and Kaplan Medical Centers and the Shalvata Mental
Health Center walked out to protest against some of the parts of the supposed
agreement, which the IMA maintained did not yet exist.
The IMA said that
in the last 10 months it has conducted “intensive negotiations with the state to
bring about the best possible agreement for public medicine in general, and the
doctors specifically. As has occurred throughout, today, too, partial
information has leaked out that does not give the whole picture. So as not to
harm the negotiations, the IMA decided not to act according to these rumors, but
rather to wait for the moment in which the agreement will be reached and then
reveal the details.”
Sheba Medical Center Director Prof.
Rotstein said “if I were of the age and status of residents, I would go out with
them to protest.”
At the same time, he urged them not to cause harm to
the patients they are treating.
“I identify with these young physicians –
these high quality people – completely.
They chose a profession that is
fascinating and a challenge and makes it possible for them to give and achieve.
But in our country, this profession has changed and doesn’t let them support
themselves and their families honorably if they work in the public sector. It
hurts that since the major labor dispute in the early ‘80s, nothing has changed.
The status of young doctors has not improved in public medicine and they are not
treated properly by the employers.”
Rotstein added that “all must
understand that without an additional external source of funding for public
medicine, we won’t be able to reach a situation in which young doctors will
remain in the system and earn what they deserve.”