Health Ministry, nurses union reach deal to end strike
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Health Ministry, nurses union reach deal to end strike

Ministry says it will substantially increase security for medical workers over uptick in violence

Ilana Cohen (R), chairwoman of the National Association of Nurses, arrives for a meeting at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on August 7, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Ilana Cohen (R), chairwoman of the National Association of Nurses, arrives for a meeting at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on August 7, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Health Ministry and National Association of Nurses announced Tuesday they had reached an understanding to end a strike protesting violence against health workers.

Following negotiations, the Health Ministry said it has agreed to substantially increase security for medical workers and add new positions for health care professionals in a number of fields.

The ministry also said it would implement the findings of a special committee on violence against health workers.

“We succeeded in bringing a significant addition of positions to the health system while strengthening the personal safety of medical teams,” Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said.

Moshe Bar Siman Tov, director-general of the Health Ministry, said “these are very important achievements both for the nurses and the [health] system as a whole.”

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attends a Knesset Health Committee meeting on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The strike, which began Tuesday morning, was called to protest what nurses say is the government’s failure to address escalating violence against health care professionals.

An altercation between security guards and the family of a patient is seen outside the Ichilov Hospital ER, June 27, 2017. (Security camera footage/Courtesy Ichilov Hospital)

According to a 2017 Health Ministry report, there are more than 3,000 incidents of violence against medical personnel per year. Only 11 percent of the incidents are reported to police, and only a small portion of those are brought to trial.

Nurses briefly went on strike last month after a 65-year-old nurse at Shmuel Harofe Hospital in Be’er Yaakov was stabbed and injured by a patient. According to court documents, 31-year-old asylum seeker Oshar Bakhit stabbed Rachel Kovo out of anger when the hospital refused to re-admit him for treatment.

The Health Ministry strongly condemned the attack on Kovo and ordered security increased at health institutions.

Earlier in July, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced a woman to five months of community service for assaulting hospital security staff at Ichilov Hospital last September. In his ruling, the judge noted that “violence against medical staff and security guards has become widespread and it is incumbent on the court to protect medical staff.”

The issue of violence in the health care system gained prominence in Israel in March last year after a man burned a nurse to death in a Holon medical clinic. Asher Faraj, 78, doused nurse Tova Kararo with flammable liquid and set it alight, killing her. According to the indictment, Faraj was angry at Kararo because the flu shot she had given him several days prior made him feel unwell.

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