'Some progress made in doctors-Treasury negotiations'

Both sides end meeting on positive note for first time in 2 months; outpatient clinics, hospitals, other facilities from TA south to strike.

Hospital Beds 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hospital Beds 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Progress was made in one specific area of negotiations between doctors and the Finance Ministry Sunday night, Army Radio reported.
The two sides reportedly agreed to shorten the duty shifts of medical interns from 26 to 18-hour shifts. Also on Sunday, for the first time in two months, both sides noted that the negotiation session had been positive, saying that it brought hope that an agreement would be signed shortly.
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Earlier reports had painted a much more grim picture.
“The Israel Medical Association leadership is incapable of reaching an agreement,” Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen charged on Sunday.
On Monday, hospital outpatient clinics, day hospitals and diagnostic institutes will close down in the southern half of the country from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.
On Tuesday, the same thing will occur in hospitals in the northern half of the country (from Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer).
“Only in the last week, the Treasury reached some complex agreements involving reforms and structural changes, but with the doctors, there is no real partner with whom to reach an agreement,” the Shas legislator said.
Since the doctors’ labor dispute began nearly two months ago, Cohen has been the Treasury’s main mouthpiece on the issue.
“Either the doctors don’t want to or are unable to reach an agreement,” he said.
Only in the past week, he continued, “the Treasury has been successful at reaching complex agreements with reforms and structural changes with the teachers, the Israel Land Administration and others. But we see the doctors as unable to make decisions necessary for the good of the public health system, who prefer to continue to hurt patients with an illegitimate and unnecessary strike.”
Cohen added that the Treasury has “made the doctors very generous proposals for coping with the real problems of the health system – medical care in the periphery, medical residents and specialties with serious doctor shortages – but the IMA is worrying mostly about higher wages for senior doctors.
The doctors have for two months been protesting against the Treasury’s “refusal to negotiate fairly” on their demands for higher wages, increased manpower and restructuring the health system.
All the charges have been denied by IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman.
The “gaps between the two sides remain large and the Treasury’s offers insubstantial, while the health system collapses,” Eidelman said at a Lag Ba’omer “protest bonfire” in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
He promised to continue the struggle until a solution is found to prevent irreversible damage to patients.
“We will go on with our struggle for many months more if there is a need,” he said, reiterating his call for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is formally health minister, to get involved in finding a solution.