2,300 medical residents threaten to quit after rejecting shift plan

2,300 residents will file their resignations after rejecting a plan which would shorten shifts in some departments at 10 hospitals.

Medical interns protest at Tel Aviv's Habima Square on Saturday, May 9.  (photo credit: MAARIV)
Medical interns protest at Tel Aviv's Habima Square on Saturday, May 9.
(photo credit: MAARIV)

Some 2,300 medical interns, residents and students plan to submit their resignations on Wednesday after they rejected a plan that they say did not come close to meeting their demands to shorten their shifts.

“We woke up to a very difficult morning,” said the Mirsham union for medical residents. “They lied to us. They deceived us. They sold us. They told us stories. With a shaking hand and a heavy heart, letters of resignation from 2,300 interns, students and residents will be filed tomorrow. We ask forgiveness from the patients. We are sorry for the extreme step we have to take.”

For the past few weeks, the interns have been protesting against having to work 26-hour shifts, demanding that the shifts be shortened.

Mirsham stated that the proposed plan would only shorten shifts for non-surgical professions, meaning that 90% of residents would continue working 26-hour shifts. Coronavirus wards, internal medicine and emergency rooms were also not included in the proposed plan.

According to the plan, the shifts for interns at 10 hospitals in the periphery will drop to 18 hours, with six shifts per month. Emergency and ICU interns will only have their shifts shortened in six months. The Health Ministry demanded that a start date for the plan not be announced or decided.

The union stressed that 25% to 30% of interns should be included in any outline for shortening shifts in 2022.

Doctor demonstrates at a protest of resident doctors demanding more personnel in the hospital and that 26-hour shifts be shortened. (credit: ELAD GUTTMAN)Doctor demonstrates at a protest of resident doctors demanding more personnel in the hospital and that 26-hour shifts be shortened. (credit: ELAD GUTTMAN)

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz called the move “unnecessary,” saying he was in good contact with the interns and that they understood that the process needed to be gradual, according to KAN news.

“There are not enough doctors to make an immediate cut across the country. Some steps must be taken. I do not understand how such resignation will help,” said Horowitz.

Despite the announcement from Mirsham, coalition chairwoman and Knesset Health Committee chairwoman Idit Silman called the plan an “important and significant achievement,” stressing that there is a long road ahead.

Silman stressed that she intends to continue working to shorten shifts for all internal medicine and emergency medicine departments within an appropriate time frame.