Mediator called in to solve crisis at Jerusalem children‘s cancer unit
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Mediator called in to solve crisis at Jerusalem children‘s cancer unit

Health minister urges doctors, management to put ‘other considerations‘ aside as medical students protest unit‘s closure

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Families of patients from the pediatric hemato-oncology unit at Jerusalem‘s Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem,  demonstrate in support of the unit‘s director Prof. Michael Weintraub, near the capital‘s Ministry of Health on February 9, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Families of patients from the pediatric hemato-oncology unit at Jerusalem‘s Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem, demonstrate in support of the unit‘s director Prof. Michael Weintraub, near the capital‘s Ministry of Health on February 9, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman appointed a former treasury official to heal a dispute between a Jerusalem hospital and six pediatric oncologists who resigned earlier this week.

The move came as dozens of medical students demonstrated outside Litzman’s Jerusalem home, calling for an end to a crisis between management and staff at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.

On Sunday, Michael Weintraub, the head of the city’s only pediatric hemato-oncology unit, and five other senior doctors in the department resigned. The unit treats children with leukemia and other severe blood diseases.

They blamed hospital management for what they described as a severe failure to invest in the staff. The statement in which they announced their resignation contained no further details on their argument with management.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attends a conference in Jerusalem, February 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attends a conference in Jerusalem, February 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Litzman announced Tuesday morning that he was appointing Kobi Amsalem, a former Finance Ministry salaries expert, to try to mediate between the two sides.

“I again call on the sides to put every other consideration aside at this time and to come to an agreed solution. We must take any available action to ensure the best medical treatment for children,” he said in a statement.

Professor Michael Weintraub, head of hemato-oncology, Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem (Hadassah)
Professor Michael Weintraub, head of hemato-oncology, Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem (Hadassah)

The resignation of the six senior doctors did not take effect immediately and Weintraub said Sunday they would try to minimize harm to the patients.

“In the coming months we will invest the maximum effort to take care of an orderly transfer of patients to the teams that will take on the responsibility of caring for children — between Hadassah and other centers,” he said in a statement.

Parents of children in the ward demonstrated outside the hospital Sunday in support of the doctors and called on Litzman to approve transfer of the pediatric hemato-oncology unit to the capital’s Shaare Zedek hospital.

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