A long-festering medical and staffing crisis has “gone on far too long,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday (June 25), and must be resolved one way or the other.
Doctors in the pediatric oncology unit at Hadassah Medical Center have gone on strike, and the medical director attempted to hire new doctors to replace them, rather than risk the health of young patients; a move that raised further ire.
The prime minister addressed the issue in his opening remarks to the weekly government Cabinet meeting, noting that although attempts were made to resolve the crisis, “also by me, via the Health Minister who has worked tirelessly on the matter, and by others, including the President.. These attempts have not succeeded.”
A motion to end the crisis has been filed with the High Court of Justice, which will convene on Wednesday, Netanyahu said, adding, “We are all awaiting the discussion.
“I request that the sides make a final effort, which will not be simple, to restore the status quo ante – so that these tired and sick children will not continue to suffer – and then allow six months or a year to consider matters.
“If the issue is not resolved with this simple proposal and since the sick children are in a tent in Sachar Park, I have appealed to the court to advance its discussion to tomorrow. There is no reason to wait another two days and cause the children unnecessary suffering.”
Parents of children who are hospitalized in the Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Hadassah – where the young patients are admitted for bone marrow transplants – also launched a hunger strike Sunday morning to protest the crisis, Ynet reported.
Due to a shortage of beds in the unit, hospital director Prof. Ze’ev Rotshstein made a decision to transfer and treat some of the pediatric bone marrow transplant patients into the adult unit.
Six senior physicians resigned in March over the decision. Rothstein is using medical teams from Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer in Tel Aviv, while he recruits new medical staff. But the parents say the doctors who come to the pediatric unit are not skilled in caring for children. Two weeks ago, the parents filed a petition with the High Court of Justice, asking the court to order the dismissal of Prof. Rothstein, and to order Sha’are Zedek Medical Center to open a new hemotology-oncology department instead.