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Israel News

Hospitals to strike on Monday: ‘Doctors thrown out like the garbage’

CM 08/05/2021

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Hospitals across the country are expected to launch a 24-hour strike on Monday after the Finance Ministry refused to continue funding some 600 physicians who were hired to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic.“We have found no other way to deal with the unlimited power of the Finance Ministry,” Prof. Zion Hagay, chairman of the Israel Medical Association, told The Jerusalem Post. “We saw exhausted doctors in 2020. There is severe burnout and post-trauma.”During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Finance Ministry approved hiring some 600 additional doctors, mostly residents, to help manage the crisis. These doctors’ contracts expire in June and, despite health officials saying that the positions were sorely needed even before coronavirus, the Finance Ministry has refused to continue funding them.There are also 1,600 nurses whose contracts are not expected to be renewed.“Funding for these positions came from sources outside the regular budget, which was earmarked for coronavirus,” the Finance Ministry told the Post last month. “The Health and Finance ministries are discussing the various alternatives ahead of formal budget discussions that will take place in the near future.”Hagay said that nothing has changed since then.“These 600 doctors worked very hard to combat the pandemic,” Hagay said. “They worked long hours and risked their lives and now they find, when the morbidity is very low, that the Finance Ministry does not need them anymore and they are just throwing them out like the garbage.”

Moreover, he explained that Israel has fewer doctors on average than most OECD countries at 3.2 per 1,000 people. That number is expected to become even lower in the next decade, reaching a low of three per 1,000 as older doctors retire.“We know that the median age of physicians in Israel is over 55, like in Italy,” Hagay told the Post.Additionally, the Israeli population is aging and there are expected to be around 400,000 people over the age of 75 within the next 10 years. Older patients require three times more health services than the average population, which means more care will be needed at a time when the number of doctors is on the decline.Hagay charged that the Finance Ministry is continuing a policy of “starving the healthcare system in Israel,” the same policy that he said caused the country to lockdown so quickly at the start of the pandemic, and that caused two additional shut downs over fears that the hospitals would break under the pressure of so any severe COVID-19 cases.“We had to lock down for longer periods and quicker than we would have had to if we had more doctors and beds,” Hagay explained.Among the hospitals that will be on strike on Monday are Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Rambam Health Care Campus and Hadassah Medical Center. All public hospitals and hospitals that are operated by Clalit Health Services will be on strike, meaning that only emergency cases will be admitted.“We are aware of the damage a strike causes,” Hagay said. “We are not looking for a bonus. We are looking to give the citizens of Israel the healthcare they deserve.” Source: Jerusalem Post

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