New Program Seeks to Cut Waiting Time at Hospitals

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Waiting times at Israeli hospitals, especially for elective procedures, can often be quite lengthy. In order to shorten those waiting times, the Health Ministry will spend NIS 900 million ($256 million) on a program to do just that in Israel’s public hospitals. The shortened waiting times, Ministry officials hope, will reduce the number of patients who opt for care in private hospitals, where wait times are considerably shorter — but where procedures are far more expensive, as they may not be covered by insurance.

The plan was introduced by Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, and will allow patients who have been given an appointment for surgery at a specific hospital — but who have to wait at least 30 days for the procedure — to choose another hospital anywhere in the country that has open slots or waiting times of less than 60 days. The money will go towards administrative expenses to pay for procedures in hospitals that are not in the patients’ Kupat Cholim health maintenance organization network.

Commenting on the plan, Minister Rabbi Litzman said that “we are working on ways to shorten the wait times for procedures, as well as instituting plans to reduce infections that are contracted in hospitals. We have already begun to implement the 24-hour use of MRI systems, to ensure that all those who need tests can do them quickly.”

According to Moshe Bar-Simantov, the allocation is “an unprecedented amount of money that will make the changes in policy felt among those who require treatment at hospitals. The public hospital system provides excellent care, but a lack of resources sometimes prompts patients to use private options. We will ensure that the public is able to get the quality services it needs quickly.”