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Hospitals, clinics to go on two-day strike to protest violence against medics

Labor action called after doctor is wounded in attack by patient with crowbar; ‘We will intensify our actions until someone wakes up,’ union chief says

Illustrative: Nurses strike at Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in protest of violence against medical personnel, July 4, 2018 (Courtesy Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital)
Illustrative: Nurses strike at Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in protest of violence against medical personnel, July 4, 2018 (Courtesy Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital)

Staff at public hospitals and clinics will go on a two-day strike to protest violence against medics, the doctor’s union announced Tuesday after a doctor was attacked by a patient with a crowbar at a community clinic in central Israel.

The strike was called after police earlier in the day arrested a man who allegedly attacked and wounded a doctor in Be’er Yaakov. The incident is the latest in a string of acts of violence in hospitals and clinics in recent months.

The union said the hospitals and clinics would operate on a weekend schedule for all of Thursday and Friday, offering reduced services.

There has not yet been an announcement from the nurses union on whether they will be joining the strike.

“We have made it clear over the past year unequivocally that any case of violence will encounter zero tolerance on our part,” said the chairman of the Israel Medical Association, Prof. Zion Hagay.

“The most recent strike has led to an important government decision to place police in emergency rooms and allocate the necessary manpower, but we must look at things solely on how we implement them in the field. As long as we do not see real actions in the immediate term, we will intensify our actions until someone here wakes up and understands that violence in the health system is a real epidemic,” he said.

Recent months have seen an increased wave of attacks against medical teams and facilities across the country.

The upcoming strike is the second initiated by the union over the past month.

May’s labor action was called after family members of a patient who died at a Jerusalem hospital attacked medical staff and caused significant damage to the intensive care unit after they were informed of his death.

According to police, the suspect in Tuesday’s assault, a resident of the town in his 30s, went to the clinic earlier in the day for medical treatment.

While at the clinic he began to behave wildly. He refused to leave when asked by the doctor to do so, and instead grabbed a crowbar and hit her on the head.

She was moderately wounded and taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment.

The man was soon apprehended by police for interrogation and will be brought before a court Wednesday to have his custody extended.

Following the alleged attack in Be’er Yaakov, the Health Ministry published a tweet showing the wounded doctor, vowing to end the horrible phenomenon.

“The picture of the doctor who was attacked earlier in Be’er Yaakov is not easy to see. Still, we must share it — because this is the exact result of the violent and inflammatory discourse toward doctors, especially in the last two and a half years,” the tweet said.

“We will fight for all our doctors. We will do all we can for this to stop because this cannot continue any longer,” it added.

The tweet also included a statement from Health Ministry director-general Prof. Nachman Ash, who called on the country’s justice system to intervene.

“This reality can not continue, the violence against the medical staff has become a scourge that the state must not come to terms with,” he said. “We will do everything possible to protect the medical staff, we can not allow for them to keep being humiliated and physically assaulted. I call on the State Attorney’s Office and the judiciary to exhaust the law in all its severity.”

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