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Israel News

‘We feel betrayed,’ doctors say ahead of health system strike

CM 09/05/2021

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The entire healthcare system is going to strike on Monday to protest the government’s decision to cut funding for the new personnel hired to fight against the pandemic.
“This strike is about the attitude of the Finance Ministry toward the healthcare system of Israel,” Israel Medical Association president Dr. Zeev Feldman told The Jerusalem Post. “There is an imminent threat that some 600 physicians who joined our system during the coronavirus year will be removed.”
“The strike is about our ability to provide reasonable care for our patients,” he added.
When the pandemic hit, the healthcare system was already facing a high level of stress. According to the most recent available data dating back to 2018, Israel had only 3.2 doctors per 1,000 citizens. The OECD average was 3.5.
The OECD provides internationally recognized standards and gathers data to monitor and create policies and best practices.
The number of nurses in Israel also remains well under the OECD average at five per 1,000 people, compared with nine per 1,000 people. There are also some 1,600 nurses whose contracts are not expected to be renewed.
“Our normal has been abnormal for many years,” Feldman said. “We have not hired enough physicians to address the population growth, and [the] healthcare system is small for the Israeli population.

“We can see it in the number of hospital beds, in the fact that many patients are lying in the corridors and in the 80% increase in the waiting time for a specialist from the healthcare providers. Wherever you look, you see the neglect in our system.”
“While the coronavirus patients disappeared, all our internal-medicine wards, pediatric wards and emergency rooms are full,” he added. “We need those 600 doctors.”
“The contribution and the dedication of the healthcare professionals to the Israeli people have already been forgotten, and in many ways we feel betrayed,” Prof. Arnon Afek, deputy director-general of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, told the Post. “They are so short-sighted. They don’t understand the necessity of these early healthcare systems. What we need is not for us. We are not asking for a pay raise. It is for new positions in the most crucial departments.”
More than 30 of the 600 new positions were at Sheba, and most of the doctors hired were new graduates who started their residency and cannot be fired in any case, he said.
If on June 30, when the funding ends, the budget is not renewed, the hospital will not be able to hire new personnel when a physician retires or leaves, leaving crucial positions uncovered, he added.
On Monday, hospitals, clinics and all civilian healthcare facilities are expected to operate in holiday mode, just for emergencies, while nonessential treatments will be postponed.
A committee will decide about special borderline cases.
“I want to apologize to the public for the inconvenience this will cause,” Afek said. “The strike, however, is for them and for the healthcare we can provide. “I’m sorry that some people have such a short memory.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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