Despite ongoing complaints about hospital overcrowding, a Health Ministry survey on patients’ satisfaction while treated at state general hospitals showed an 8.4 rating out of 10 in surgical departments and 7.6 in internal medicine departments.The telephone survey of over 5,000 patients covered the year 2010 and was released on Thursday.Dr. Michael Dor, the chairman of the satisfaction survey committee and the head of the general medicine branch at the ministry, said it was meant to examine the views of patients at 11 government- and municipal-owned general hospitals.Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said at a ministry conference on “patient experience” in the health system that investment in improved medical services must continue.He added that he was aware of heavy workloads borne by hospital nurses, especially during the winter when patients suffer complications of the flu, but “the situation is under control” and periodic walkouts by nurses “are not the proper way” of dealing with overcrowding, Litzman said.The deputy minister also said that on Sunday, he will present to the cabinet his proposal to exempt Israeli medical students who studied in the OECD countries from having to pass a licensing exam. This, he said, will increase the number of physicians, which is currently inadequate.Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu stated that “professional treatment is of high quality, but as for services, the feeling is often different. This challenges everyone in the medical teams.”The conference, he said, is the first of its kind and will become an annual event.Gamzu sent a document to all the hospitals and health funds asking for their comments on changes meant to improve health services.Among the proposed changes are appointments for hospital outpatient clinics and diagnostic institutes that will be made in a centralized way via the hospital’s switchboard and not separately and include the use of a website. Several patients will not be invited to a clinic or institute at the same time but at a specified time.The ministry survey of satisfaction at internal medicine and surgical departments showed that patients whose health condition improved as a result of hospitalization were satisfied or much more satisfied with their experience in the hospital.Arabs gave a 8.07 satisfaction rating compared to 7.62 from veteran Jewish Israelis, while immigrants from the former Soviet Union gave only a 7.32 rating and immigrants from other countries 7.34.Patients who were not sent to a bed in the corridors of an internal medicine or surgical department hospital corridor gave a 7.83 rating, while those who were rated their experience at only 6.92.Patients gave higher ratings (8.5) to doctors in surgical departments than those in the more-crowded internal medicine departments (8.2). Most patients said they had much trust in doctors and were satisfied with the amount of explanations they were given. As for nurses, patient satisfaction ranged from 8 to 8.4, depending on whether they were in surgical or internal medicine departments. But many patients wanted nurses to come to the bedside more quickly. They also wanted to be introduced to physicians and nurses by name before they were treated by them.However, hospitals received relatively low marks when assessed on the quality of their meals, the amount of noise and disruptions in the wards and the lack of privacy.