Knesset demands re-nationalization of School Health Service

Knesset committee: Treasury’s failed privatization eight years ago has cost even more and offered less.

Nurse 370 (photo credit: courtesy)
Nurse 370
(photo credit: courtesy)
The Knesset again demanded that the Finance and Health Ministries reverse the privatization of the School Health Service that they carried out some eight years ago and charged that the change cost much more and resulted in poorer service than when public health nurses ran it.
The School Health Service is meant not only to give immunizations to school pupils but also to educate children about health and perform health checks such as hearing, posture and vision. But since the Treasury turned it over -- with Health Ministry acquiescence -- to a series of private companies, it provides little more than shots, and even that not in a highly efficient way, according to Likud MK Orly Levy Abecassis, the head of the Children’s Rights Committee that met on Tuesday.
After a State Comptroller’s Report strongly criticized the privatization, the Health Ministry restored public health nurses only in the Southern district, but public health experts have demanded that all the privatization be cancelled and the public service restored. “Knesset committee after Knesset committee and dozens of reports have urged an end to privatization, but the message hasn’t gotten through” to the Treasury, she continued. This time, the economic aspect is also wrong, as there has been a surge in costs for the private companies to run it compared to what occurred when it was part of the Health Ministry, Levy-Abecassis continued. “A schoolchild who gets good treatment today will be a healthy person in the future, and this saves money for the state and society.”
The committee chairman said that all the other authorities and experts, including the Health Ministry and the High Court of Justice but not the Finance Ministry, now support ending privatization except for “a Treasury official who is responsible for health budgets and been in the job for only six weeks.”