Staff at public hospitals and clinics plan to go on strike this week in protest of the government’s judicial overhaul, the head of the Israeli Medical Association, Prof. Zion Hagay, said on Monday.
Hagay told Channel 12 that the public health union, which represents about 95 percent of physicians in Israel, is prepared to work in “emergency mode” for a few hours this week.
The exact date of the strike has not yet been determined and will depend on the schedule of the legislative process in the Knesset.
The coalition is advancing legislation to prevent courts from using the test of “reasonableness” in evaluating decisions made by the cabinet and ministers.
The controversial bill “will devastate the healthcare system and is not just a theoretical concern,” Hagay had declared last Thursday.
The union is consequently planning a “warning strike” of several hours and will work in “emergency mode,” which will entail the cancelation of elective procedures and non-urgent treatments.
Many doctors in medical uniform took part in the nationwide “day of resistance” last Tuesday, and the White Coats, a group of doctors opposed to the government’s policies, reported that about 5% of the doctors at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv were absent from work that day.
Over 1,000 doctors on Thursday penned a letter to Hagay urging him to declare a strike until the “complete trashing of the overhaul,” charging that the plans will harm “the quality of medicine in Israel, will harm patients and undermine the great achievements of Israeli medicine.”
Another letter was sent to Hagay last week on behalf of hundreds of public health professionals urging him not to shut down the healthcare system, Channel 12 reported. “Do not give advice on our behalf to the government, do not threaten the citizens of Israel with a strike, do not harm patients in violation of our oath. Preoccupy yourself with medicine and its advancement — this is the only mandate you received from us,” the letter read.
Last week, civilian members of the IDF Medical Corps said that they are “following with great concern the ‘destructive’ legislation and its far-reaching effect on the healthcare system in Israel” and that they intend to bring to the attention of the military top brass the immediate danger posed by the legislation to the functioning of the medical corps. Numerous volunteer doctors have reportedly already announced they were ending their service.