Prime Minister Yair Lapid decided Monday evening that preparations for shortening intern shifts to 16 hours will begin in periphery hospitals immediately. These preparations will facilitate entering the agreed outline into force by September 2023. The goal is to transfer budgets to the hospitals and expand hiring standards so that they can recruit more interns and shorten the shifts.
Lapid, who is in the middle of an election campaign where his bloc currently trails Benjamin Netanyahu’s by 54-59 mandates, issued a statement saying: “The interns’ shifts are insane, their conditions for making life and death decisions are impossible. I promised that we would do everything to shorten the shifts, and we will harness the HMOs and the hospitals to get there. The interns have been taking care of us for many years, it’s time for us to take care of you again. This is the first step in the reevaluations and I thank Doctor Ray for his responsiveness and cooperation.”
Doctor Ray Biton, Chairman of the Interns’ group Mirsham (Heb. “Prescription”), said Monday night: “There’s no doubt that today we took a significant step toward starting the implementation of shortening shifts. The personal involvement of the prime minister and the director-general of his office (Naama Shultz) made the breakthrough possible and we thank them for that. We expect the Finance Ministry to transfer the agreed budget immediately to start the process”
On Sunday, at the end of long discussions between the representatives of the interns and the relevant government ministries, it was decided to postpone the interns’ letters of resignation. On August 25, 200 interns announced that they would submit their resignations, protesting the fact that the shortening of shifts, which was supposed to take effect last April, had been delayed by a year and a half. Mirsham demanded that the Finance Ministry transfer to the Health Ministry the budget that was agreed upon for the implementation of the first phase of shortening the shifts of specialists in ten hospitals in the periphery––approximately NIS 66 million ($20 million)––to recruit more doctors and start the process.