Haifa's three hospitals are in despair over a critical shortage of intensive care beds, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Haifa. The three hospitals, which cater for an area with a population of more than half a million people, contain a total of just 34 intensive care beds, and intensive care patients are having to be cared for in wards, where the supervision is not as great and their lives may be in danger. According to the report, intensive care doctors are being faced with the difficult task of having to choose which patients should be cared for in other wards. "Many times we stand in front of a number of patients who should all be in intensive care," one doctor said. "But in the current situation, someone is going to find himself outside. The care he will get in a regular ward will be less good from the standpoint of supervision of his vital signs and from the standpoint of the number of nurses who will check his situation. To my sorrow, patients on respirators are being placed in regular wards, and this will not change until the Health Ministry provides greater funds." The report said the national doctors' organization wrote to the Health Ministry last January describing the "grave problem" in the shortage of intensive care beds around the country. The doctors warned that despite Israel's technological prowess, patients were not getting the best possible care. According to the ministry, there were 329 intensive care beds in Israel in 2007, a figure that was only 14 beds more than in 2000. The report said the situation in Haifa was worst at Carmel Hospital, which has 10 intensive care beds and had an occupancy rate of 131.5 percent in the intensive care ward throughout 2006, resulting in many intensive care patients being looked after in other wards. The city's biggest hospital, Rambam, has 18 intensive care beds, all of which are occupied almost constantly. Bnei Zion has six intensive care beds and a 100% occupancy rate. At Bnei Zion alone, doctors say 10 more intensive care beds are needed.