Seven hospitals to extend partial strike for 2nd day in budget protest

Major medical centers across country continue to only perform life-saving procedures and refuse new patients from Magen David Adom

Doctors and nurses strike outside a Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, on August 25, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Doctors and nurses strike outside a Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, on August 25, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The heads of seven hospital systems announced Wednesday evening that they will continue a partial strike for a second day on Thursday in protest of a government decision not to increase funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning Wednesday morning, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital and both hospitals in the Hadassah system; Bnei Brak’s Mayanei Yeshua; Netanya’s Laniado; and Nazareth’s St. Vincent de Paul, Holy Family Hospital, and Nazareth Hospital, have only been performing life-saving procedures and have refused to admit new patients from the Magen David Adom emergency service.

In a statement, the directors of the hospitals acknowledged that representatives from the Health Ministry and Finance Ministry had attempted to reach out to them, but said that “we cannot pay our suppliers and workers with sympathy.”

They called on Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman to “resolve the crisis immediately.”

Israel’s seven so-called “public” hospitals are open to all patients and rely mostly on state funds, though they are privately owned.

In a Tuesday letter to Horowitz and Magen David Adom emergency service director Eli Bin, the hospital directors accused the health authorities of failing to live up to their budgetary commitments and said that they do not have the funding to provide adequate care.

“We would like to inform you that due to the structural deficit imposed on us by the state and due to its non-compliance with agreements made with public hospitals, the seven hospitals [we run] will be unable to function fully and provide adequate care to patients due to lack of budgeting,” the hospital directors wrote in the letter.

Hadassah Ein Kerem team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of the Hadassah Ein Kerem medical center in Jerusalem, on August 25, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Tonight, the prime minister is taking off [for the United States], leaving us to fight the coronavirus with a gun without bullets. We expect him to intervene in this crisis,” the hospital directors added. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett left Israel for the US on Tuesday for a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

The hospital administrators claim that the NIS 300 million ($93 million) promised by the state to public hospitals has not yet been transferred. Additionally, a clause in their agreement with the Finance Ministry promising an additional NIS 55 million ($17 million) each month that the pandemic continues has also not been kept since July, they claim.

In June, the same hospitals boycotted a government event honoring the health system for COVID-fighting efforts, accusing the state of financially abandoning them.

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