MDs to hold modified ‘work to rule’ sanctions next week

Court rejects gov’t appeal for restraining orders against the IMA.

Hospital beds 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hospital beds 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
After some eight hours of deliberations by National Labor Court president Nili Arad, the Finance Ministry, the Health Ministry and the doctors‚ non-state employers (Clalit Health Services, the Hadassah Medical Organization and other voluntary hospitals) received a second blow on Thursday night – the Jerusalem court’s refusal to issue restraining orders against the Israel Medical Association, which began sanctions three months ago.
Work rules “by the book” are officially set according to previous contracts and Health Ministry regulations, but are rarely carried out because of the lack of medical manpower and infrastructure.
The appellants, who wanted the court to reverse the decision some 10 days ago of the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court not to force the doctors to work normally, were trying to head off the IMA decision to “work to rule,” starting July 1.
The judge ruled that the two sides would hold “intensive negotiations on Sunday and then report back to the court on Monday.” In the meantime, the doctors will be allowed to work “by the book,” but in a modified way that will mean more moderate sanctions than they had planned, such as residents doing only six night and weekend shifts – instead of up to 14 in today’s reality – per month.
Hospital outpatient clinics will work normally next week. Medical residents will perform shorter shifts, as announced last week, but they will finish their shift work after completing the handover of departments to those who replace them, after “24 +2 “ hours of work.
Units in which specialists do shifts – neonataology, emergency, dialysis, transplants, intensive care, anesthesia and delivering babies – will continue to do so and not be replaced by less-experienced residents.
Specialists who are not listed for shift work will not remain in the hospital after 4 p.m., except in emergencies.
Clalit Health Services community clinic doctors will not provide services in which there is no direct contact between patient and physician beyond their regular working hours, but will prepare medical authorizations.
The hospital doctors’ committees who receive appeals from patients who need urgent care will continue to meet and make decisions to prevent harm to the public.
Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, in an interview on Thursday with the haredi Radio Kol Hai (where he has been interviewed frequently in recent weeks) said he didn’t understand what the IMA meant by “working by the book” because the rules state they should work until mid-afternoon on Fridays – but very few physicians are found in the hospitals before Shabbat in ordinary times, when there are no sanctions.
Regarding the sanctions by the Israel Nurses’ Association protesting against the failure of the Treasury to increase the number of nurses in internal medicine departments, Litzman announced that he will provide funding for increasing the number of nurses’ slots in these departments instead of the Treasury.
He said it had to be done immediately, and that there was “no room for compromise” on the issue.