All of Israel’s hospitals were set to strike on Sunday morning between 10 am and 12 pm in solidarity with the workers of the Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem.
Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus are facing a NIS 1.3 billion ($367 million) deficit, and on Tuesday both medical staffs launched an open-ended strike to protest the collapse of negotiations with the Finance Ministry to cover what they owe.
During Hadassah’s strike, the two hospitals are operating on their weekend and holiday rotation, which marks a significant reduction in staff. All treatment that is not deemed urgent — including clinics, overnight hospitalizations that are not oncology-related, and elective procedures and surgeries — has been suspended. With the exception of emergency cases, the hospitals were not accepting new patients until further notice.
During their brief solidarity strike on Sunday, workers at other hospitals in Israel were also set to restrict themselves to a weekend rotation.
Hadassah’s doctors were planning to stage a demonstration at 9:30 Sunday morning outside the Prime Minister’s Office, as ministers arrive for the weekly cabinet meeting. Their goal, they said, was to “put an end” to the government’s “indifference.”
The medical practitioners at Hadassah launched the protest after months-long discussions with the Finance Ministry to cover the debt didn’t yield results.
Fearful that the government would turn to the courts to request that a trustee be appointed to manage its affairs, the hospital has applied the Jerusalem District Court for a stay of proceedings.
Employees warn that if a trustee is appointed, they will bear the brunt of the financial crisis, which they say will likely cause layoffs and compromise the quality of medical care.
Last week, the hospitals signed a deal that granted an infusion of NIS 100 million ($28.36 million) that will go toward paying some of the workers’ salaries. The sum was provided by the finance and health ministries, the Hadassah women’s organization and the Hadassah hospitals.
But the sum isn’t sufficient, and workers on Saturday night threatened to stage a full strike starting Monday if they weren’t paid their full salaries.