Rivlin to Netanyahu: Get involved in health crisis

Medical residents publicly sign resignation letters, say they'll tender them if their demands aren't met; IMA chief announces hunger-strike.

Rivlin 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Rivlin 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday morning to personally involve himself in the health system crisis and labor dispute with doctors, describing it as "a struggle over the character and future of the public health system in Israel."
The health crisis, he said, is only one part of a greater crisis in the status of public sector workers, including prosecutors, teachers, social workers and police. Rivlin made the comments at the opening of a medical convention in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
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Also Tuesday morning, over 100 medical residents arrived at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer to publicly sign resignation letters in the latest step of their labor dispute against the Finance Ministry. The residents said they would tender their resignations if their demands in negotiations with the Treasury were not met.
Meanwhile, top officials of the Israel Medical Association continued their march from Ramat Gan to Jerusalem, leaving Kfar Chabad Tuesday morning. Head of the doctors' union, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, who is leading the march, announced a one-man hunger strike on Tuesday as the work dispute continued to escalate.
RELATED:IMA chief announces hunger strike to protest labor dispute Treasury says doctors must accept arbitration
Sanctions imposed by doctors and medical residents continued, with only emergency and oncological surgeries taking place.
The Prime Minster's Office appeared ready to involve itself in the doctors' strike on Tuesday, with PMO Director-General Eyal Gabbai set to meet with IMA officials. Eidelman was expected to meet with Gabbai during a break in his protest march to Jerusalem.
Eidelman, who said that the health system is collapsing, said Netanyahu had the power to halt the decline by immediately adding 1,000 manpower slots for doctors, although he did not say where these physicians would come from. Reducing the number of night and weekend shifts by medical residents to six monthly – about half of the current number – and finding ways to increase doctors in specialties with meager medical manpower, would also stop the decline.
He also suggested attracting physicians to the periphery, where the level of medicine is considerably lower; and increasing doctors’ wages by 50 percent an hour.
“Where has Health Minister Netanyahu disappeared?” Eidelman asked. “Look into the patients’ eyes. Look in the eyes of the doctors, in the eyes of the residents. Carry the heavy burden. Today, not tomorrow.”
Eidelman began his four-day march at 4 p.m. on Monday; on Tuesday he will be at the Latrun interchange; on Wednesday he will stay overnight at Moshav Beit Zayit; and on Thursday he will ascend to Jerusalem.
Once in the capital, IMA leaders will march to the Prime Minister’s Office, where they hope to leave a petition signed by tens of thousands of physicians and others who support the struggle for a better health system. Eidelman is expected to hold his hunger strike in a tent opposite the Prime Minister’s Office starting Thursday.