The Health Ministry said Wednesday it had approved plans for a new hospital in Beersheba after years of delays, which officials say will ease chronic overcrowding in a part of the country where there are few existing medical centers.
The hospital, which will be the city’s second, is slated to open by 2028, and will include inpatient beds, beds for long-term and psychiatric hospitalization and surgical rooms, the ministry said.
By 2030 the ministry plans to add additional surgical rooms, outpatient and counseling centers, a dialysis center and an outpatient cancer treatment facility.
The third phase, set to be completed in 2032, will include further expansions as well as an emergency room, inpatient cancer center, pediatric ward and more.
Healthcare services in southern Israel have struggled to keep pace with the region’s growing population. In 2017, Assuta Ashdod Hospital opened its doors, becoming the first new public hospital to be built in Israel in 40 years. The Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, which opened in 1959, is the main medical hub for the nearly one million residents of the south. The smaller Yoseftal hospital also served Eilat, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) away.
A 2019 Taub Center report found that those living in Israel’s geographic periphery suffer from the greatest shortage of beds. In the north and south of the country, the number of beds per 1,000 people is the lowest — 1.32 and 1.55, respectively — while Jerusalem hospitals have the most, 2.36.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett lauded the approval of the plans in the government’s socioeconomic cabinet on Wednesday, praising the advance “after years of stagnation.”
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz called the move “a health revolution in the periphery” following “years of paralysis and procrastination.”
Horowitz said the new hospital will offer “a dramatic change in the quality and accessibility of medical services for residents of the south.”
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman noted that the move was first approved by the government in 2014 but had stalled since then under then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We are committed to addressing the challenges of medicine in the south,” said Liberman, “improving and streamlining the quality and significantly shortening the waiting periods for treatments and surgeries in the south and the periphery.”