Medical professionals gathered near the home of Health Minister Yuli Edelstein to protest their work conditions, as a decision to lighten those conditions expires on Wednesday. Many were forcibly removed by police and a few were arrested. "We will not return to the conditions of slaves," they chanted. The Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry, led by Likud MK Itzik Shmuli, approved a decision to change the work conditions of medical students and interns, chief among them not allowing a 26-hour-straight shift. That decision is set to lapse on Wednesday, meaning the long shifts could be reinstated if the ministry doesn't take action.
This is not the first time the issue has been brought up in protest. In May, some 2,500 interns protested in Tel Aviv, demanding shorter shifts. The Jerusalem Post reported at the time that the protests were "spurred by recent incidents" in which medical professionals were having to deal with the mental health challenges that come with working such long hours. In February, a doctor at Beersheba's Soroka-University Medical Center committed suicide, the fourth such death in the preceding year and a half. Additional changes demanded include getting paid by the hour for hours worked overtime, Walla explained. Dr. Ray Biton, chairman of the Residents Organization, said in a June protest that "we're doing much more than six rotations in a month, and none of us succeeds in getting two hours of sleep during our rotations."Half a year of discussions is too much – 30 people is too much. This is not how you make decisions," he told the Post at the time.