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Focus on the Doctors' Protests

Throughout Israel last week, over a thousand doctors handed in their resignation in a protest against their poor working conditions. This came in the follow up to discussions held between the head of the Israel Medical Association, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, and the Knesset. Dr. Eidelman had conducted a twelve-day hunger strike to raise awareness for his cause, yet many had expressed discontent with his representation of their needs and therefore presented their resignation papers.

On Sunday, September 4, the Labor Court declared these resignations invalid. Medical staff are now required to work as normal unless they wish to be considered absentee workers.

Some medical specialists are now beginning a hunger strike of their own in protest at their resignation papers being ignored.

 

After the decision of the Labor Court: The Specialists returned to work.

'They've turned us from workers to slaves' [Translated from Yediot Achronot]

Up until Sunday morning, the specialists still thought that their resignation letters would be accepted, but at 9am the matter was clarified: they were required to attend work. 'The day on which the state enforces the framework, only using orders, is indeed a black day, both for democracy and medicine'.

Immediately after the declaration of the national labor court's ruling and after the meeting of hospital specialists, Dr. Luba Tau, specialist at Ichilov Hospital, hurried to her first appointment yesterday. 'I have to write afresh the timetable of duties since we were absent', she explained. 'Now we are forced to work.'

The inpatients in the ward, smiled when they saw Dr. Tau walking around the corridors in her white robe. 'I know that the specialists are right, but my mother is hospitalized here', explained the son of one patient. 'It's better that they're here.' But Dr. Tau was thrown off her guard. 'On Friday, we left the hospital in the anticipation that we weren't coming back, and suddenly they inform us about this prevention order and forbid us to resign'.

 

Spotlight on individuals

 

'Perhaps someone will have an epiphany'

Dr. Anan Shteizy

Age: 28 – Specialist in department of Orthopedics, Sheva Hospital

Perhaps as a result of the hunger strike, something will change. Perhaps finally, someone will wake up and will care about the doctors. We are asking for a reopening of the legal agreement.

 

'They haven't left us a choice'

Dr. Inbal Markhum

Age: 34 – Specialist in the department of Internal Medicine, Sheva Hospital

I made the decision to go on hunger strike because they didn't allow us to resign. They tied our hands and didn't give us any choice. If only they give me permission to strike, I will stop striking.

 

'We are third class citizens'

Dr. Oren Weissman

Age: 34 – Specialist in the department of Plastic Surgery, Sheva Hospital

The Law Court decided that we are third class citizens, that despite the fact that it's permissible to enslave us, illegally, for consecutive 30 hours, we are not allowed to resign.

 

'Listen to us!'

Anna Salzer

Age: 28 – Intern, Sheva Hospital

I am on hunger strike in the hope of changing something. I will stop striking when they stop silencing the workers who are the most loyal in the state and they listen to us.

 

Reasons for resignation [translated from Maariv]

 

Dr Niv Marom, Orthopedic, Meir Hospital

Age: 33 - Location: Kfar Saba - Marital Status: Single

 

Why did you resign?

The battle for communal healthcare is that of all citizens of the state. The agreement which you gave for nine years is a death sentence from the start for the structural organization. When you examine the paragraphs and small print in between, you see that most of the advancements are only empty leads. The plans are inapplicable and without true relevance to the adversity faced. They're not paying attention to us, so we have elected to take this drastic step as a last resort.

Dr Odelia Hurin, Pediatrician, Wolfson Hospital

Age: 31 – Location: Tel Aviv – Marital Status: Married + 2

 

Why did you resign?

My husband is also a specialist and for most of the week one of us is on call. Our daughters are growing up in an alternating single-parent family. However, despite the hard work and the never-ending hours, we are not rewarded as we deserve and are not succeeding to the finish the month. I want to create a future in which we can earn enough through communal medicine, without having to juggle two or three jobs. This is not going to take place via the present agreement.

After being told to return to work [translated from Maariv]

Dr. Ariel Margolis

Ears-Nose-Throat Specialist

The decision over the prevention order grabbed me when I was at home, with a coffee, out of the hospital, after having resigned. Minutes later, we returned to the hospital. It's very troublesome that they chose to hang their arguments on something technical so that they would return. We are coming back as enforced slaves. I will present a new resignation letter in the days to come.

Dr. Mickey Highfeld

Specialist in General Surgery

 

After my resignation, I got into my car and went to pick up my 4-month-old daughter to spend some quality time with her. However, just then, the department head contacted me to make sure that I'd heard the Law Court decision. I went back to the hospital, this time with a personal resignation letter and a handcuff round my hand. I feel like they're imprisoning us.