High Court gives IMA, Treasury week to reach agreement

Beinisch: "Israel Medical Association's behavior does not arouse faith, this is no way to negotiate."

dorit beinisch 311 Ariel Jerozolimski (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
dorit beinisch 311 Ariel Jerozolimski
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
During a discussion on the subject, the High Court on Monday criticized the Israel Medical Association's (IMA) conduct during negotiations with the finance and health ministries. Supreme Court President Judge Dorit Beinisch said "the IMA's behavior does not arouse faith, this is no way to negotiate."
The High Court decided on Monday to give doctors and representatives of the Finance Ministry another week to try to reach an agreement that would end the sanctions affecting the health system. At the end of the week there will be another hearing before the High Court and the different parties will present the progress made. 
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"Both sides wanted a few more days, and both reported some progress," said Beinisch, "We hope to avoid a further strike by the IMA and to begin productive negotiations."
Last week, IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said that although progress has been made in negotiations with the Treasury on the doctors' work dispute, sanctions would continue in hospitals and clinics until a final agreement is reached.
"We have many more issues on the agenda," Eidelman said in an interview with Army Radio.
After 137 days of a bitter labor dispute between the Treasury and the Israel Medical Association and a 10-day hunger strike by Eidelman, a breakthrough was reached in negotiations last Wednesday night that enabled the hungry physician to eat again.
For the first time, the two sides issued a terse joint statement with the outline of a negotiated agreement. The statement disclosed that 1,000 extra job slots for physicians would be allocated to the public hospitals.
In addition, the number of night and weekend shifts of 26 hours in a row would be reduced to six per month. This process would “begin immediately and be spread over the next two years,” it said.
The joint statement also reported that funds would be allocated “immediately” to make grants of “up to NIS 300,000” per physician who agrees to work in the periphery of the country and in medical professions in which manpower is scarce.
There was no mention of whether doctors who are already living and working in hospitals and clinics in the periphery would be compensated as well.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.