Under threats of mass abandonment of hospital departments by residents over their long shifts, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday that it supports the “just struggle of the interns,” but urges them “not to use resignations” as a way of achieving their goal.
During the past year, the ministry “has been leading the complex but necessary change in the terms of employment of the doctors on duty. We conducted in-depth examinations of the burden of hours. At the end, Dr. Sefi Mendlovic, the deputy director-general, presented a report that outlines a professional, responsible and practical outline for shortening the duration of the on-call shifts.”
The ministry statement added, “Unfortunately, the Finance Ministry reneged on its commitment to pass a dedicated budget that had been agreed upon by the ministers of health, finance and economy and industry.”
The Israel Medical Association (IMA), which represents thousands of veteran physicians and specialists, also opposed the agreement and, with the Finance Ministry, has prevented its implementation until now, the statement went on.
The ministry's statements
“Recently, the economy minister of the economy and industry signed the amended permit regarding the shortening of the shifts, which [were] fully of the Mendlovic report,” said the statement. “But due to the pre-election period and in light of the ruling of the attorney-general, the economy and industry minister postponed the effective date of the shortening of shifts to September 2023. The Health Ministry is preparing for the implementation of the plan by this date, but we stress that doing so will require the immediate allocation of standards and resources by the Treasury as well as the regulation of the salary conditions in understandings with the IMA.”
The interns’ struggle is “justified; shortening the duration of shifts is a necessary move for public health. Specialist doctors are an essential component of the health system, and, therefore, the Health Ministry urges them not to take steps that would harm the proper functioning of the hospitals,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, MK Alon Tal (Blue-White party) called for an emergency discussion of the issue. He met on Monday with medical interns and representatives of their representative organization “Mirsham,” who said they will submit hundreds of letters of resignation before the end of this week. “We’re talking about a negligible amount of money, about NIS 30 million a year, and that, in the past, the deputy attorney-general ruled that salary disputes are solved during elections.”