Photo Credit: Avshalom Shoshoni/Flash90
Nurses Union chairwoman Ilana Cohen (R) in Labor Court in Tel Aviv, August 1, 2019.

Israel’s Nurses’ Federation declared a strike Monday morning after failing to reach an agreement with the Finance Ministry overnight. As of 7:00 AM, the country’s health care system has been downgraded to an emergency basis, until the nurses’ demand for additional nursing staff are met.

The nurses will not come to work in clinics, treatment facilities and hospital elective surgeries. Operating rooms will function on a holiday schedule with no surgeries in the afternoon, except for emergencies approved by the Exceptions Committee. In all inpatient wards, the nursing staff will work on a holiday basis. Intensive care units will have a smaller nursing staff, as will preterm infants, delivery rooms, dialysis, oncology and fertility clnics.

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Nurses’ Federation Chairwoman Ilana Cohen told Reshet Bet radio Monday morning that there are enough registered nurses in Israel to meet the urgent needs of the healthcare system and that hiring standards must be upped to let them in.

“They think we are suckers,” Cohen said. “The nurses are collapsing – and this collapse didn’t start in the time of the coronavirus, but long before that.”

Cohen added that the overnight meeting with representatives of the Finance Ministry which ended without an agreement, the topic of discussion was not salaries but the huge shortage of nurses.

“Someone needs to put an order to this mess, this is not IKEA,” she said.

Come to think of it, Israel’s healthcare system could learn a lot from IKEA when it comes to the orderly management of customers, but the chairwoman likely referred to the fact that IKEA can hire and fire its employees on a whim without impacting its business.

The chairman of Israel’s Federation of Physicians, Professor Zion Hagai, sent a letter of support to Cohen Monday morning, stating: “I call on the Israeli government to respond immediately to the demand for additional medical staff. The acute shortage of hiring standards for medical teams was born long before the outbreak of the coronavirus, but it is certainly more noticeable these days. Unfortunately, while the French government has managed to inject 8.1 billion euros to finance an acute increase in hiring standards to the health system and to improving the conditions of medical staff, here in Israel the Finance Ministry is busy with unnecessary spins and arm wrestling.”

The Medical Internship Association announced Sunday that it would join nurses’ strike and their demand for immediate additional hiring standards. The association’s chairman, Dr. Ray Bitton said: “This struggle includes all of us. The departments are collapsing and the interns are collapsing along with them. Interns continue to work 26-hour shifts that are inhuman any given day, but now many interns are in isolation, and there is no one to replace them.”

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