Health Ministry looks to get residents back to work

Ministry says 245 residents who failed to show up for work despite injunction acting "in contempt of court."

Doctors residents x-ray 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Doctors residents x-ray 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
After 245 medical residents didn’t show up for work Monday morning, the Health Ministry warned they were acting “in contempt of court.”
Most were from the larger and economically stronger hospitals in the country – mostly Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.
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The hospitals were not warned in advance.
The new organization, named Arbel, which speaks on behalf of hospital residents but does not legally represent them, has so far not succeeded in persuading the Treasury to meet their demands or the Labor Court or other higher courts to rule in its favor.
Dr. Chezy Levy, head of the ministry’s medical administration (including supervision of the hospital system), said his office is trying to get the residents to go back to work immediately using legal and other means but that he could not predict the result.
“We hope they will act as law-abiding citizens,” he said.
The ministry said Monday it was “following” the intention of a few hundred residents to absent themselves from some departments. It instructed hospital directors to tell them if they did not coordinate their absences with their superiors that they were violating hospital rules and showing contempt of the National Labor Court, which had instructed them to return to work.
Arbel members took action before the High Court of Justice has ruled on its request by members to resign in protest against the various courts’ refusal to let them resign en masse. The ministry noted negotiations with the Treasury are the “only solution” to existing disputes.
The ministry told hospital directors to present it with a list of names of doctors who did not arrive at work.
The ministry said senior hospital doctors would work longer hours to ensure no departments or units would close. All leaves and activities were canceled immediately.
Supreme Court Justice Hanan Meltzer has criticized the fact that talks between the Treasury and the residents had not been intensive in recent weeks.
The Israel Medical Association also said Arbel had not yet met the criteria of a subgroup that could represent doctors within the IMA and that any physician who joined an organization that “has a conflict of interest with it” would not be allowed to be an IMA member.