'MDA lacks supervision, alternative may be needed'

Knesset panel says it “would not rule out the establishment of additional lifesaving organizations to compete with MDA.”

New MDA building 311 (photo credit: Courtesty of MDA)
New MDA building 311
(photo credit: Courtesty of MDA)
A few weeks after the Health Ministry was skewered by a State Comptroller’s Report for its shoddy and even nonexistent supervision of the national first-aid, blood supply and ambulance service Magen David Adom, the Knesset State Control Committee said on Monday that it “would not rule out the establishment of additional lifesaving organizations to compete with MDA.”
The committee, headed by MK Uri Ariel, will hold a series of sessions to look into the critical findings by outgoing State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on other shortcomings in his 280-page section on the ministry.
Ariel said that the recent “statement by a senior MDA official that ‘everything’s OK with MDA’ is a sad commentary and reflects the problematic structure of the organization.”
The comptroller charged in the report that MDA institutions that had been meant to supervise and control it were powerless, and recommended the replacement of its longtime and powerful director-general, Eli Bin.
“Even though it would be proper to say ‘thank you’ to MDA and its staff, who work with dedication and deserve to be appreciated, the comptroller’s reports on it are severe,” said Ariel.
As the government promised that by the beginning of July, all the guidelines and new appointments would be completed, the ministry’s and MDA’s reports to the committee on shortcomings “will be moved up,” the chairman said.
Ze’ev Aner of the State Comptroller’s Office said that changes in the MDA Law should be considered as a result of the report.
Deputy Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman said he was considering the transfer of the comptroller’s reports in recent years on MDA to an “external judicial source that will determine the necessary steps.
“This is not the first report, the second or [even] the third, and the matter must be dealt with, including by changing the MDA law,” Litzman said, not conceding his ministry’s fault in poorly supervising the organization. “Because there are disputes between MDA and United Hatzalah [an Orthodoxrun volunteer organization], people think I am automatically against MDA, but it isn’t so.”
Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu thanked the comptroller for “exposing the matter” and said his latest report was “a clear and sharp statement on the running of the organization and the rules of supervision by the state and MDA itself. We will handle the subject together with MDA and fix all the shortcomings within four months,” he promised.
“MDA needs it first and foremost for itself.”
Ministry associate directorgeneral Dr. Boaz Lev, who is formally responsible for MDA, said that “supervision of MDA appointments has already been launched, and careful control on the organization have begun.
MK Prof. Arieh Eldad, a physician by training, said that the internal control of MDA has “collapsed, and this requires dismantling and rebuilding it. It is too late to fix it, and patching it is doomed to failure. MDA [management] feels as if it is immune and all powerful, that [the managers] can’t be touched, thus all previous efforts to repair it failed.”
Bin countered that at the meeting, “not a single Likud MK was present.”
MDA legal adviser Gershon Guntovnik said that “internal supervision has improved and salary excesses of the past were eliminated.”
MK Ze’ev Bielski said that MDA management wasted time on trying to hurt other lifesaving organizations. “I call on Eli Bin to forget about his ego and find the way to cooperate with other bodies for the good of the citizens of Israel.”
The noisy and tense meeting included a threat by Ariel to remove MDA actions committee chairman Dr. Noam Yifrah, because he “caused disturbances” as the representative of the state comptroller spoke.