Hadassah labor dispute arises over doctors’ liability insurance

Management says significant advances in negotiations with the doctors have been achieved.

Hadassah Medical Organization’s woes are far from over. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Hadassah Medical Organization’s woes are far from over.
The Israel Medical Association and doctors’ works committees at the two Hadassah University Medical Centers in Jerusalem declared a work dispute on Wednesday on behalf of 1,100 physicians.
The declaration, which could lead to a Hadassah Medical Organization strike, involves medical liability insurance and shows that HMO’s labor problems of last year are not over.
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said the works committees and the IMA “are investing every necessary effort to stabilize the hospitals, following the decision by the Jerusalem District Court on an arrangement with the creditors. But unfortunately, HMO management is dragging its feet regarding liability insurance and signing the collective agreement. After advances in recent weeks, HMO management reneged on agreements already reached,” said Eidelman. “If management does not wake up, we will be forced to bring to a halt the hospitals’ activities.”
HMO management responded that it “regards medical liability insurance as of vital importance and urgent. It is important to stress that HMO physicians have professional liability coverage for all their activities in the hospitals.”
Management added that “significant advances in negotiations with the doctors have been achieved, and that these will continue until they are completed. An agreement can be achieved, and this is not the time for organization steps and harm to HMO and its patients.”
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has allowed Hadassah University Medical Center at Ein Kerem to resume organ transplantation three months after it temporarily discontinued it due to labor friction. The ministry accepted the recommendation of Rambam Medical Center director-general Prof. Rafael Beyar that transplants could be resumed at the Jerusalem medical center.
Dr. Hadar Merhav, head of the transplant surgery unit whom HMO management had wanted to dismiss, will remain in his position. In October, there were allegations that management refused, due to “interoffice politics,” to let Merhav – a transplant surgeon with 25 years’ experience – transplant a liver into a 50-year-old woman and wanted a different surgeon to do it; the organ was not used. The case went to court, and the Jerusalem Labor Court issued an injunction barring Merhav’s dismissal.
Merhav remains in his position now, but HMO decided an additional transplant surgeon, Dr.
Abed Hal’ila, will join him, along with Dr. Ya’acov Samet of vascular surgery and Prof. Ofer Gofrit of urology. HMO said that supervision and safety guidelines had been refreshed and patient selection procedures had been reorganized. Until the halt, HMO surgeons had performed between 20 and 40 organ transplants a year.
Meanwhile, the union of hospital medical lab technicians stated on Wednesday that the labs are “collapsing, and the situation is life-threatening.”
The union demanded that non-urgent tests be delayed.
Among the hospitals with the heaviest pressure on workers are the two Hadassah hospitals and the Rabin, Ziv, Wolfson and Sheba medical centers, the union said.
The union accused Treasury officials of “saving money at the expense of patients,” and that as a result, “we had to take on the burden of responsibility for the lives of patients beyond our abilities.”