Litzman recommends upping retirement age for doctors to 70
Deputy health ministry aims to alleviate the shortage of employed physicians.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman wants physicians to work until age 70 and not the official retirement age of 67 to alleviate the shortage of employed doctors.However, a senior medical administrator told The Jerusalem Post that the idea was “half baked” and not thought out, as the most veteran hospital physicians are the highest paid and not necessarily most motivated to work hard or efficiently.Litzman made his statement Thursday at a conference at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.It was not stated whether the pension age for doctors would increase as an option or a requirement.The senior physician, who insisted on remaining anonymous, said that there is no legal restriction today on how long a doctor may work. After 67, numerous hospital physicians who have officially retired are hired with a personal contract to continue. Thus, they get their pension and more if the hospital wants them. But, he continued, if all doctors are required to work until their 70th birthday, they are the best paid and will not necessarily be motivated to work hard or efficiently, he said.Litzman’s proposal, he concluded, was “pulled out of a hat, without careful consideration.Any medical institution that chooses to hire a doctor after pension age can do so now. There is no law against it.”AdvertisementAsked to comment, the Israel Medical Association (IMA) – which was taken by surprise by Litzman’s statement – said that “in principle, we are not opposed to delaying the pension age for doctors, but they must receive higher payment scales for working longer,” the IMA said.It did not comment on whether it would approve a mandatory hike in pension age or insist on only an optional one.On Tuesday, the IMA will hold an emergency meeting in the Knesset initiated by Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, who is a gynecologist and lawyer by profession.Since 1995, there has been a trend of fewer physicians per 100,000 residents, and it has become more prominent since then. The number of working physicians under the age of 44 has declined steadily by 200 every year.Although the rate of new doctors in the European Union has increased by nine per 100,000 residents, the Israeli figure is only four per 100,000. Medicine is a less attractive field of study among university students than before and compared to other fields, said the IMA, which demanded additional budget allocations as incentives for doctors in 2011. In addition, too many young doctors who do postdoctoral medical research abroad do not return to Israel due to inadequate research infrastructure and jobs here.
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