Health Ministry surprised by IMA work dispute

The Health Ministry said on Monday that it was surprised that the Israel Medical Association had declared an official work dispute on behalf of 20,000 physicians in the public sector on Sunday, giving them the right to launch a strike or other work action within two weeks.
The ministry said that the IMA’s announcement – after seven months of fruitless negotiations between the association and the Treasury – was “premature, before the two sides had dissipated all the potential of talks.”
According to the Health Ministry, because the doctors and the Treasury are still in the midst of negotiations, the declaration of a work dispute – especially related to medical services – must wait until the process has been completed.
“We think they hurried up needlessly and call on the IMA to continue in its intensive negotiations while presenting details positions,” said a ministry spokesperson.
Health Ministry Director-General Dr. Ronni Gamzu said that while he is not a Treasury negotiator, he knows the issues closely and would be happy to participate in the negotiations with the Finance Ministry over doctors’ salaries and conditions.
The Health Ministry called on the two sides to consider a “compromise” suggested by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman that would allow the introduction of private medical services for senior doctors in the public health system in exchange for agreement from doctors to punch time clocks when they arrive at work and leave, even during the middle of their posts.
The Finance Ministry has claimed that some physicians leave public workplaces during the day to do extra work outside. However, it is not certain that the Treasury would agree to private medical services in public hospitals.