Israel’s Healthcare Crisis Worsening at Alarming Pace

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Rambam Medical Center physician Dr. Chaim Toledano explains he and his colleagues simply wish to continue practicing medicine, but they are unwilling to permit the ailing national health system to continue limping along as it exists today. Toledano is the Rambam Medical Center labor representative for physicians, and he questions the wisdom and motives of the Health Ministry’s decision to instruct hospital administration to fire ten doctors today, 19 Cheshvan.

At this point, the snowball effect has taken its toll, and the strike includes residents as well as junior and senior physicians, and if the ministry does not begin addressing grievances the nation’s healthcare system may collapse.

Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman rejects the legitimacy of doctors submitting letters of resignation, directing them to the nation’s judicial system to address the issues at hand.

What is certain is that someone must intervene in the hope of establishing a line of communications. At present, one side is dismissing doctors and on the other side, additional doctors are writing letters of resignation. It permitted to continue, the strike will bring the nation’s government hospitals to their knees and the patients may suffer chas v’sholom.

Toledano told Kol Chai Radio’s afternoon news program that tomorrow, Thursday, 20 Cheshvan, there will be a court hearing, admitting when he and his colleagues submitted their resignations; they were unaware of this fact. Toledano adds the decision to strike earlier today was compelled by the ministry’s unreasonable response, ordering Rambam administration to immediately fire ten doctors.

As reported earlier, the firing order was ignored; with hospital officials explaining that they could not comply since doing so would place patients at risk.

Dr. Toledano explains he and his colleagues are not panicked, and they will continue acting responsibly towards patients and the ministry.

Asked to respond to accusations that striking doctors are compromising patient care, he stated there is simply no basis to these claims, questioning the actions of the health ministry; firing doctors who are simply seeking reasonable employment conditions. He explained that the collective labor agreement recently signed by representatives of the Israel Medical Association is unacceptable, and he and many others are unwilling to “be held prisoner with shackles and chains for a ten-year period, unable to discuss employment conditions and terms during that time”.

Toledano stated that if one wishes to see the situation calm down, decisions must be made, adding he expects to see the prime minister become personally involved.

NOTE: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is officially the minister of health. Yahadut HaTorah’s Yaakov Litzman is the deputy minister, but in actuality, he runs the ministry.

This is a long-standing agreement with the Ashkenazi chareidim who are prohibited from accepting ministerial posts in compliance with instructions from gedolei yisrael shlita. Therefore, while Litzman is only a deputy minister, he does maintain ministerial authority regarding most issues.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)