(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu summoned Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman Monday afternoon for an emergency meeting regarding the mass resignation of medical residents earlier in the day. Litzman said they hoped to reach a solution is a short period of time, Army Radio reported.
state also sought an injunction from the National Labor Court Monday
afternoon that would order medical residents to return to work. Several
hundred medical residents resigned and did not show up for work Monday
morning as part of a labor dispute in the health system.
residents: Resignations may be unstoppable
residents agree to postpone resignation by 48 hours
Following the mass resignation, Steinitz called
on the residents to return to work. "We all need to
respect the law and the rule of law," Steinitz said in a statement,
urging the medical residents to "hold discussions
with us. We are looking for creative ways to improve certain things
within the already-written agreement with doctors, including additional
The government was also considering ordering a transfer of more senior doctors to departments
where the residents' absence has created backups. Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein
already signed off on such a process, which still
needs to be authorized by the director-general of the Health Ministry,
Army Radio reported.
In announcing the resignation at a press conference Monday morning, residents' representative Dr. Gabi Heran
called on the labor courts not to order
them back to work.
respect the court," Heran said, "far more than Finance Ministry
wages supervisor Ilan Levin. Today we will ask the court not to issue an
injunction or confinement."
"It is not the doctors that led us
to this depressing situation," he added. "It is the state that needs to
take responsibility for its actions."
Thus far, the National Labor Court has declined to let residents resign
over what they claim are unfair conditions agreed upon in the Israel
Medical Association’s nine-year labor agreement with the employers,
which was signed at the end of August.
Immediately following the resignation, Netanyahu said he was working to solve the medical crisis and asked medical residents to put off their resignations from public hospitals by an additional two weeks.
"[The] prime minister asked the residents for a two week delay and he expects them to show responsibility," a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
At the resident's press conference, Dr. Oren Feldman asserted that only the prime minister's
involvement could solve the crisis. "I turn to you, Mr. Netanyahu.
Hundreds of residents did not show up for their
morning shifts: 104 at Ichilov Hospital at Sourasky Medical Center, 71 at Meir
Medical Center in Kfar Saba, 77 at Rambam Medical Center and 18 at Bnei Zion
The decision to resign was met by some with criticism. Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen of Shas told Army Radio, "The residents' resignation will cost human lives." Cohen accused hospital administrators of cynically trying to expand their businesses toward private insurance at the expense of patients.
After walking out on the talks with the Finance Ministry, the medical
residents' representatives expressed frustration with the Treasury's
"failure to understand the reality of the situation" and called on Netanyahu to intervene.
Without a compromise, all the sides have much to lose, as the physicians
would not be given their jobs back once they carried out their threats
to leave, and the Health Ministry desperately looked for other doctors
to fill their places.
To prevent outright chaos in the event that the residents resign from
their posts in the wards and emergency rooms, the Health Ministry opened
a situation room in its Rehov Rivka office that would coordinate and
make arrangements for specialists to fill the holes; ministry officials
know that the arrangements would be only temporary.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.