Health Ministry chief: Groups of doctors quit together

It will be difficult to continue operating departments where almost 50% have resigned, Roni Gamzu says; "It's very bitter fruit to taste."

doctors protest 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
doctors protest 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Health Ministry director-general said Sunday that, "The majority of resignations were made in groups, entire departments will go home together, in some departments almost 50 percent have quit," in response to the resignation of 702 medical interns and 32 specialist doctors.
The doctors are set to leave their jobs on Tuesday, and Health Ministry Director-General Professor Roni Gamzu told a Sunday morning press conference that it would become difficult to continue operating the departments.
RELATED:Long time opponents in doctors' protest to compromiseDoctors meet in Tel Aviv, call on IMA chair to resignHe described the issue as "difficult, complex and problematic," adding, "It's very bitter fruit to taste when confronted with real concerns about hospital survival plans."
The Health Ministry appealed to the court for the resignations to be executed progressively, rather than all at once in a large group.
Previously 200 residents privately resigned in September in response to a  National Labor Court ruling that deemed the coordinated mass resignation of residents and interns illegal.
In a unanimous ruling, the National Labor Court issued an injunction ordering 1,000 residents who had signed letters of resignation to report to work as usual. The court ruled that the resignations signed by the residents were illegal and therefore invalid.
"Failure to report to work as stated will constitute an unauthorized abandonment of their jobs by the workers, and will be subject to the appropriate consequences," the court ruled.
The doctors were protesting the nine-year labor agreement signed by the IMA and the employers (including the Treasury and Health Ministry) at the end of August.
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who for a long period had strained relations with Israel Medical Association Chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman, met with him in his office last week to discuss the potential upheaval in the health system if the medical residents and specialists were follow through on their signed resignations.
Litzman and Eidelman agreed to cooperate “out of an obligation to the welfare of patients and to promote the advancement of the health system.”
Joanna Paraszczuk and Judy Siegel-Itzkovich contributed to this report.