The High Court on Tuesday ruled that two-to-three of the six doctors who resigned from Hadassah Hospital’s children’s cancer unit can transfer to the city’s Shaare Zedek hospital to take care of their young patients on an outpatient basis.
The court, ruling after mediation failed to resolve a dispute between doctors, patients’ parents, administrators and ministry officials over where the doctors will work, gave the state — in this case the health ministry — until 5 p.m. on Thursday to respond.
The ruling followed the failure of a court-appointed former judge to mediate a solution to the crisis, which began in October with a decision by Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem’s CEO, Zeev Rotstein, to reorganize the unit in a manner which six doctors and three interns from the pediatric hemato-oncology unit found medically and logistically unacceptable.
The parents of child cancer patients had petitioned the High Court to allow resigning Hadassah staff to transfer as a unit to Shaare Zedek, as doctors had attempted to do in the early days of the crisis.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman vehemently opposes the opening of a new department at Shaare Zedek, saying that the existence of two pediatric hemato-oncological units in Jerusalem would split resources and weaken provision of services overall.
During mediation, the Health Ministry had offered the doctors the option of returning to Hadassah, under external management that would bypass Rotstein, but Rotstein insisted that the man he brought in to head the unit after the doctors’ resignation be allowed to continue to do so — a condition the former medical team would not accept.
After conceding failure and concluding that there was no way to return the doctors to Hadassah, the mediator, former High Court judge Elyakim Rubinstein, suggested that the court impose a solution which would include allowing three of the doctors to treat their young patients as outpatients at Shaare Zedek, but not to admit them as inpatients and not to carry out any bone marrow transplants there.
The Health Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it respected the court’s ruling which, it said, had accepted its professional opinion against opening a new pediatric cancer unit at Shaare Zedek.
“In accordance with the High Court’s decision, the Health Ministry will submit its position to the court about the possibility of employing two or three doctors in an existing clinic at Shaare Zedek until the end of 2017, for the purpose of treating children who were already being treated at Hadassah.”