Thousands of health professionals strike over manpower shortage
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Thousands of health professionals strike over manpower shortage

Physiotherapists, dietitians, speech therapists, occupational therapists and others walk out claiming they are overworked and unable to meet demand

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Medical personnel at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, on March 2, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Medical personnel at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, on March 2, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Some 5,000 physiotherapists, dietitians, speech therapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals began a labor strike Sunday morning, protesting a shortage of manpower in their fields.

The open-ended strike was announced by the Histadrut labor federation last week, after the health professionals said they were being overwhelmed and unable to provide adequate services to the patients.

“Medical professionals are today in an impossible situation that confronts them not only with exceptional workloads and exploitative employment terms but also with serious ethical and moral dilemmas,” said Eli Gabay, head of the Histadrut’s Medical and Health Professionals Union, in a statement last week. “It can’t go on any longer. The system has reached the point of collapse.”

The strike includes employees from the Health Ministry, the Clalit and Meuhedet health maintenance organizations, Hadassah Medical Center, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and other clinics and hospitals around the country.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement that it had offered to look into the matter and had asked for six weeks to gather accurate data about manpower, the Hebrew-language Ynet website reported last Thursday.

“We think that the proposal that was offered is fair and doesn’t justify taking organized labor action that harms the public in need of medical services.”

In January the Histadrut declared a labor dispute over the issue and has said that since then there has been no serious progress in the matter.

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