Knesset committee balks on another health-related Arrangements Bill provision

The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee turned down a Health Ministry proposal to allow registered nurses to perform certain medical procedures that until now have been allowed only to physicians. Committee chairman MK Moshe Sharoni of the Gil Party objected not too much to the idea, but to the fact that the proposal is part of the Arrangements Bill that has to be passed en bloc rather than as a separate government-sponsored bill. Two MDs who are also MKs, Ephraim Sneh and Aryeh Eldad, agreed that the proposal -- which is important and has important implications for public health -- should not be part of the Arrangements Bill. The Israel Medical Association, which has numerous lobbyists working in the Knesset, prefers the existing law, in which additional medical procedures that are permitted to nurses should be approved by the Knesset committee rather than by the Health Ministry director-general. But ministry deputy director-general Dr. Yitzhak Berlovich explained to The Jerusalem Post that with new medical procedures appearing, giving nurses the authority to perform them should be a professional matter for the director-general to decide and not MKs. Berlovich said that its legal office had prepared a separate bill with the same contents, but that because of bureaucratic problems and vested interests, "it has gotten nowhere in two years." Only nurses who undergo special training would be allowed to perform the approved procedures, such as intubations, inserting a catheter into the urethra and taking arterial blood, Berlovich said. Meanwhile, the ministry -- headed by Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri, also of the Gil Party -- has been stymied by Sharoni for the second time. The ministry earlier this week wanted to push through via the Arrangements Bill a section that would allow pharmacists to prescribe medications without a doctor's involvement in certain cases, as for drugs taken regularly by chronically ill patients. Sharoni persuaded his colleagues to vote against this earlier this week on the grounds that it was a controversial idea that should not be railroaded down the MKs' throats in the Arrangements Bill.