Israel’s nurses threatened on Monday to go on a general strike due to severe staff shortages rendering it impossible for nurses to properly fulfill their jobs, Ynet reported.
The shortage stems from the fact that as hospitals are filling up with more and more coronavirus patients, almost 800 nurses are in quarantine, a 500% increase since last month when only 124 nurses were in quarantine.
“The nurses are collapsing,” National Association of Nurses chairwoman Ilana Cohen said in a letter to Finance Minister Yisrael Katz, adding that nurses cannot continue without additional manpower and that hospitals have opened new coronavirus wards without hiring new staff members and purchased new respirators without training nurses to use them.
“Whoever thinks that patients are currently receiving proper care is making a mistake,” Cohen said to Ynet. “The nurses are collapsing, the system is crashing. The strike is not an empty threat.”
“There is a great shortage in the number of nurses compared to the number of beds we operate within hospitals.” Sheba Medical Center Deputy Director Prof. Arnon Afek told Ynet. “We’re talking about a shortage of hundreds and maybe even over a thousand staff members.”
The Histadrut released a statement of support for the nurses and the Finance Ministry responded to the statement by stating that they intend to allocate about NIS 10 billion to manage the coronavirus pandemic and that “800 nursing positions were added in recent months to bolster hospitals and the pubic health system.”
Last month, the association declared a labor dispute, saying that the nurses’ heavy workloads make it impossible for patients to receive proper care.
Nurses’ complaints about heavy workloads and lack of adequate manpower predate the coronavirus crisis. Nurses went on strike last July following the blow-up of negotiations between the Nurses National Union and the Health Ministry.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)