Netanyahu to residents: Delay resignations by two weeks

Medical residents announce resignations at press conference, call on the prime minister to get involved in solving medical crisis; hundreds of residents don't show up for work at hospitals around the country.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu press conference 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu press conference 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday said he is working to solve the medical crisis and asked medical residents to put off their resignations from public hospitals by an additional two weeks.
Minutes earlier, a representative of medical residents said that he and other residents had decided to resign at a press conference. Hundred of residents reportedly did not shown up for their shifts earlier that day.
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"[The] prime minister asked the residents for a two week delay and he expects them to show responsibility," a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
"My friends and I have decided to resign," representative Dr. Gabi Heran said at a press conference, calling on the labor courts not to order them back to work.
"We respect the court," Heran continued, "far more than Finance Ministry wages supervisor Ilan Levin. Today we will ask the court not to issue an injunction or confinement."
"It is not the doctors that led us to this depressing situation," he added. "It is the state that needs to take responsibility for its actions."
Also speaking at the press conference, Dr. Oren Feldman asserted that only Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's involvement could solve the crisis. "I turn to you, Mr. Netanyahu. Please intervene."
According to Army Radio, hundreds of residents did not show up for their morning shifts: 104 at Ichilov Hospital at Sourasky Medical Center, 71 at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, 77 at Rambam Medical Center and 18 at Bnai Zion Hospital.
The decision to resign was met by some with criticism. Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen of Shas told Army Radio, "The residents' resignation will cost human lives." Cohen accused hospital administrators of cynically trying to expand their businesses toward private insurance at the expense of patients.
Following the failure of the negotiations to produce a solution to the labor dispute, the sides had been expected to meet at the National Labor Court on Monday, where the state will likely request an injunction be issued against the resignations.
Thus far, the National Labor Court has declined to let residents resign over what they claim are unfair conditions agreed upon in the Israel Medical Association’s nine-year labor agreement with the employers, which was signed at the end of August.
After walking out on the talks with the Finance Ministry, the medical residents' representatives expressed frustration with the Treasury's "failure to understand the reality of the situation" and called on Netanyahu to intervene.
Without a compromise, all the sides have much to lose, as the physicians would not be given their jobs back once they carried out their threats to leave, and the Health Ministry desperately looked for other doctors to fill their places.
To prevent outright chaos in the event that the residents resign from their posts in the wards and emergency rooms, the Health Ministry opened a situation room in its Rehov Rivka office that would coordinate and make arrangements for specialists to fill the holes; ministry officials know that the arrangements would be only temporary.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.