Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Hadassah management of a “serious failure” in its handling of hospital debts, which the public will now have to pay for.

“There was a serious failure there,” Netanyahu said at the weekly Likud faction meeting, addressing Hadassah’s financial mess which has all but paralyzed its two Jerusalem medical centers. “When the government is in deficit we handle it immediately. (They) accumulated debt there, it’s unclear why, perhaps out of the assumption that someone would pay.”

Netanyahu said Hadassah’s problems would demand the government’s attention and resources, specifically the Health Ministry and the Finance Ministry.

“The public will pay,” the prime minister said, “and we must ensure that the deficit will not return.”

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday considered the hospital administration’s request for a stay of proceedings that would lead to the appointment of a trustee, but no decision was reached by the evening.

Meanwhile nurses and administrative employees joined doctors Monday in a strike that has been going on since last Tuesday. Staff are protesting the fact that they have yet to receive their full January salaries amid the economic woes plaguing the hospital. Employees are also afraid that if a trustee is appointed to the hospitals, they will bear the brunt of the financial crisis, which they say will likely cause layoffs and compromise the quality of medical care.

Health Minister Yael German said that a stay of proceedings leading to the possible appointment of a trustee requested by the hospitals was a necessary part of the negotiation process, and would provide Hadassah three months’ time to reach agreeable terms with the Finance Ministry. She added, however, that the hospitals’ financial crisis came about as a direct result of inflated manpower, bloated salaries, and the failure of their private medical services to generate substantial revenues. Many of these accusations are echoed by Hadassah’s national leadership.

Hadassah Director-General Avigdor Kaplan at the District Court in Jerusalem Monday, February 10 (Photo credit: Flash90)

Hadassah Director-General Avigdor Kaplan at the District Court in Jerusalem Monday, February 10 (Photo credit: Flash90)

“There will be cutbacks, no more extravagant wages,” she told Channel 2 News. “Hadassah employees will receive salaries similar to their peers in other government hospitals.”

Activities at the two hospitals, at Mount Scopus and Ein Kerem, were at an almost complete standstill on Monday; only the maternity ward, intensive care, and emergency room were offering treatment, alongside wards providing critical oncology treatments and emergency dialysis.

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.

Aron Dónzis contributed to this report.