MKs demand School Health Service reinstated

Nurses working for Nataly company hold one-day warning strike as Knesset holds emergency session.

Children playing at a nursery 311  (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Children playing at a nursery 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Nurses working for the Nataly company contracted by the Health Ministry’s School Health Service held a one-day warning strike on Wednesday, as a Knesset caucus held an emergency session on the continuing controversy over the privatization of the service.
Some 120 nurses, who had previously worked for the Health Ministry, attended the meeting along with a dozen MKs and scores of health professionals. The Treasury, with the acquiescence of the Health Ministry, seven years ago privatized the service – which is supposed to vaccinate children, educate them on healthy living and examine them for sight, hearing, weight and orthopedic problems.
The Treasury claimed it would save millions, but the state comptroller in several reports wrote that it was a failure and cost more money.
The Health Ministry said a few weeks ago that due to unsatisfactory bids in a public tender, no private company was chosen to replace Nataly, which according to the comptroller did an inadequate job like its for-profit predecessors. But due to school health problems in the South, public nurses were re-hired to provide services in that region’s schools.
All the speakers said that preventing disease and taking care of pupils was a national mission and should not have been left for private companies interested in making a profit.
Under privatization, even basic vaccinations were not given to all the children.
Health Ministry public health head Prof. Itamar Grotto said he would be happy if the whole service could be de-privatized.
When Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman was chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, he advocated privatization to save money, but he has since seemed to change his mind.