Peres to gov't: Give doctors' dispute high priority

In last two days, 287 residents have refused to work, while 30 senior specialists resign.

Hospital beds 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hospital beds 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
President Shimon Peres called on the government to give top priority to bringing to an end the unrest involving medical residents at large hospitals in the center of the country.
“It would be a shame to lose a single physician, and of course, not 100 of them,” Peres said during a speech at an event for 700 young volunteers held on Tuesday in Kiryat Gat.
He was referring to the three-month-long dispute involving medical residents at hospitals in Haifa and the center of the country that, in the last two days, resulted in the refusal to work by a total of 287 of them and resignations by 30 senior specialists.
The hospital with the most residents to refuse to show up in the wards was Rambam Medical Center in Haifa (the figure of those staying away was 80 on Monday); Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (a total of 60); Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba (58); Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer (37); Bnei Zion in Haifa (16); Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva (15); Wolfson Medical Center in Holon (10); and four at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
The residents, who carry the burden of the daily routine in hospitals alongside the specialists and department heads, are demanding higher compensation for their work, no regular shift work for specialists and the cancellation of the timeclock idea approved in August by the Israel Medical Association.
The Treasury, which has the power to reach an agreement, said that the August agreement cannot be broken and that the voluntary organization set up by the residents does not legally represent them.
The Health Ministry also received a report on Tuesday that about 30 specialists presented their resignations to Rambam, 30 at Sourasky and 20 at Schneider as backing for the younger doctors.
But the ministry said that, despite the walkouts and no-shows, work in all the hospitals are continuing “normally” and that no departments or units have been allowed to close as a result.
However, at certain parts of the hospitals, patients have been advised not to come in for elective care.
Some hospital patients have been transferred to hospitals in the periphery, which are not affected because doctors there, who benefit under the new agreement with the Treasury, have not resigned.
The ministry reiterated that it regarded “with great severity” the actions of the residents and the specialists who back them, because their actions “put an added burden on senior doctors” who have to take their places somehow.
However, the ministry has asked the State Attorney’s Office to postpone legal action that could have been implemented immediately, apparently in the hope that the rebelling doctors will relent and continue negotiating with the Treasury.
Also on Tuesday, some 30 residents and interns at Hillel Jaffe Medical Center in Hadera suddenly abandoned their departments for two hours without getting their superiors’ authorization.
The doctors said they did so to identify with the residents and specialists who resigned from their posts.
Hospital director Prof. Meir Oren, who supports “some” of the demands of the rebels, invited some residents to his office to talk. The demonstrators said they did not intend to harm patients and returned to their posts.