Knesset Committee blasts Ministries for inaction [p. 6]

The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee attacked the Health and Finance ministries on Tuesday for their decision to continue issuing tenders for geriatric nursing hospital management. At an urgent meeting, committee chairman MK Moshe Sharon (Gil Pensioners' Party) said that the economic interests behind the tender process endangered the quality of services to elderly patients. The committee demanded that the process be halted and a team of experts appointed to set uniform rates, manpower slots and per diem hospitalization prices, as well as working conditions and wages for geriatric hospital staffers. Last June, the committee decided that such a panel of experts be appointed, but Sharon said the Health and Finance ministries "chose to ignore the decision." Health Ministry director-general Prof. Avi Yisraeli told the committee that he had no choice [in the matter], because the public tenders law was binding for geriatric hospitals. The ministry, he said, "took action so that the conditions of the tender will ensure the quality of treatment for the elderly in nursing institutions." A Treasury representative said the accountant-general had decided to launch the tender process as a pilot program in geriatric nursing, starting in the Petah Tikva area. But representatives of private, health fund-affiliated, and ESHEL geriatric nursing institutions charged that any company that won the tenders would be unable to meet the requirements. "Either they will have to close the institutions, or they will not be able to supply the services, and the Health Ministry will not have the manpower to supervise them." Previously, the per diem payment was NIS 372, but the tender stipulates that it be lowered to NIS 265 per day.