Ministry slams Clalit chief over ban on med students

Eli Depes unilaterally states BGU medical, nursing, other health-science students could not learn at health fund’s Soroka University Medical Center.

September 14, 2011 03:43
2 minute read.
SCHOLARS ATTEND a conference at BGU

Solar Conference 311. (photo credit: BGU)

Clalit Health Services director- general Eli Depes was rapped on the knuckles by senior Health Ministry officials on Tuesday after unilaterally stating that Ben-Gurion University medical, nursing and other health-science students could not learn at the health fund’s Soroka University Medical Center because Clalit wanted more money for its services.

Depes’s threats thus put at risk 500 medical students in Beersheba – 20 percent of all in the country – along with students of nursing and physiotherapy at BGU’s Health Sciences Faculty.

“In the end, everyone will calm down. It is impossible that a regional medical center will not be connected to the university. This clear directive was sent to Clalit’s directorgeneral, and in view of this case, the ministry will by the end of this year issue directives on the medical center’s obligations,” the ministry said.

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi sent a letter to the health and education ministers and the chairman of the powerful planning and budgeting committee of the Council for Higher Education about the possibility that its Health Sciences Faculty will not be able to open in the new academic year in October. This followed the letter she received from Depes about the unilateral halting of medical students at Soroka.

Carmi said that Clalit has made “exaggerated” financial demands of the university for payment for clinical teaching services in the health fund’s Beersheba hospital. She said it was odd, since the Council for Higher Education had set up a committee to arrange contracts among all the university medical faculties and their affiliated hospitals where medical and other students undergo clinical teaching.

The committee, headed by Manuel Trajtenberg, has already presented its recommendations to the relevant parties for their comments, and the finalized recommendations are due to go into effect at all the universities and hospitals.

The BGU president said that if carried out, Depes’s action threatened to “cause the collapse of the health system in the Negev. We expect the government to give orders to Clalit as a budgeted body and cancel immediately this threat, waiting for the conclusions of the committee that studied the matter.”

Carmi said that for years, BGU has been paying Clalit higher sums than those paid to other hospitals in the north and center of the country. She added that no other universities besides BGU have received such “exaggerated demands” from the health fund, which, said Carmi, “cynically takes advantage of BGU because Clalit has a monopoly on health services in the Negev.”

An affiliation agreement between BGU and Clalit was signed back in 1974 when the university was opened. The country’s largest health fund is the only owner of hospitals in the Negev and Arava.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom stated that the new Galilee Medical Faculty in Safed, affiliated with Bar-Ilan University, will begin its first year in October with 130 students.

Shalom’s Ministry for Development of the Negev and Galilee and the Treasury have financed the completion of the temporary facility that will house the medical faculty until it moves into a permanent campus in Safed. The dean of the faculty is Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa.

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