Doctors: Postpone Bikur Holim Hospital sale

News of the signing of an agreement to sell Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital to Jerusalem businessmen for $20 million aroused opposition on Wednesday from the Israel Medical Association and State Doctors' Union, who demanded it be held up until talks are held with the 600 staffers. In a closed meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee, committee chairman MK Ya'acov Litzman said the sale of the hospital, if approved by the Jerusalem District Court judge who put it into receivership, should not be allowed until the pension rights of the staff and retirees are ensured. The draft agreement initialled earlier this week does not obligate the would-be purchasers to cover over NIS 200 million in actuarial debts. Hospital director-general Bari Bar-Zion said he thought the pensioner problem must be solved before the sale is completed. "It is unbearable that a group of over 500 families who dedicated their lives to helping people in need would be left alone to age without a penny in their pocket to buy bread." Litzman said he would ask for an urgent meeting with Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert and Health Minister Dan Naveh about Bikur Holim. The agreement, said Litzman, is fully detailed about the real estate, land rights and other financial matters, but devotes little to staff rights.