A failed round of negotiations at the end of last week led to an escalation in work stoppages at the Hadassah hospitals on Sunday as hospital nurses and maintenance workers abandoned the wards for three hours, leaving only minimal staff to provide life-saving care.
The departments had already been running on limited capacity due to the dispute, but on Sunday matters took a turn for the worse. At 11 a.m. the walkout began.
“We had no choice. The Hadassah management and Finance Ministry have turned dedicated employees into hostages,” said a statement by the staff released on Sunday.
Workers’ committees rejected an offer by Hadassah management that included a 10 percent cut to their salaries.
“The number of workers in every department will be minimal. Only workers essential for saving lives will remain,” Avi Nissenkorn, head of the labor federation’s professional unions department, said. Staff were to return to work at 2 p.m.
“I do not recommend arriving at the hospital,” Tsila Gera, Hadassah Nurses Committee chairwoman, said. “Aside from two nurses who will remain in the hospital for emergencies, there will be no nurses in the departments. We take care of the patients all year around; now it’s their turn to take care of us.”
“The government must solve the crisis in Hadassah immediately,” Nissenkorn noted.
On Friday, Health Minister Yael German announced the appointment of a new committee, chaired by former Finance Ministry official and Bezeq CEO Avi Gabai, to investigate the crisis.
“It is essential to identify the problems and difficulties that … have led to the crisis,” he said.
“It is strange that it took one day to establish a committee, but for eight whole months the Health Ministry could not appoint a committee to rehabilitate Hadassah,” Health Ministry officials remarked on the new probe.
“The problem that needs to be investigated is how all healthcare providers and all government and public hospitals are currently in a deficit,” Society for Patients Rights in Israel CEO Shmulik Ben Yaakov said.
Hadassah’s president, Marcie Natan, was scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday night to monitor the crisis first-hand.