After negotiations fail, Hadassah hospital strike enters second day

Doctors continue to offer limited services at the Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus sites, demanding more residents be hired

The surgery department at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, in Jerusalem, September 3, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The surgery department at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, in Jerusalem, September 3, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An open-ended strike at two of Jerusalem’s biggest hospitals entered its second day Wednesday after hours of negotiations to end the labor dispute did not reach an agreement.

Talks the day before between administrators of the capital’s two Hadassah medical centers and the Israel Medical Association along with the representatives of the hospitals’ doctors’ committee failed to satisfy a demand by medical staff to hire seven medical residents.

Management at the Hadassah Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus hospitals had canceled the employment of the residents after they had already been accepted for work.

“Proposals suggested by the Israel Medical Association were not accepted by the Hadassah administration in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the strike,” the IMA said in a statement Tuesday. “We hope that in the coming days we will be able to reach an agreement and ensure the absorption of the doctors and prevent future unilateral steps by management.”

Doctors began the strike on Tuesday in protest of the decision to cancel the employment of the medical residents.

Doctors said they would only provide limited services, similar to the weekend and holiday formats, and not perform outpatient treatment or non-urgent surgeries. Those seeking treatment unavailable due to the strike need to go to the city’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center instead.

The residents were scheduled to start working at the beginning of the month. They were to replace seven others who had finished their residencies, the Haaretz daily reported Tuesday.

The hospital’s administration has said it cannot afford to employ the residents as it is undergoing a financial recovery program, the report said.

But Professor Ron Eliashar, chairman of Hadassah’s committee for department managers, one of the four doctors committees at the hospitals, told the Kan national broadcaster on Tuesday that “the cost of employing residents is relatively low.”

“There are seven residents who were supposed to start work on February 1, and they were informed two days before that their employment was canceled,” Eliashar said.

The lack of residents hurts the quality of treatment offered by the hospital, he added.

The Jerusalem District Court and the National Labor Court have both rejected requests by the hospital administration to prevent the strike, ruling the labor action is legitimate, Haaretz said.

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