Flug Sounds Alarm on Coming Health-Care Crisis

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Israeli health system is on the verge of severe crisis, Governor of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug warned on Wednesday.

Israel faces a worsening shortage in the number of available hospital beds, as well as in the number of doctors per capita, according to data cited by Flug at the Israel Democracy Institute Eli Hurwitz Conference, Globes said.

“The Israeli healthcare system is considered very high-quality by international comparison. However, given the overcrowding in the hospitals, the long wait for various procedures, and the low rate of doctors and nurses per capita, the level budgeting for the healthcare system must be adjusted to the tasks imposed on it, a significant increase in the physical infrastructure and human capital in the system, and streamlining the long-term care system, with particular attention to improving systemic coordination. These can be advanced only through a multi-year plan based on a detailed analysis of future needs,” Flug said.

Israel ranks at the bottom of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries in the density of beds in emergency medical wards, whereas it has the highest rate of population growth in the OECD, and its elderly population will grow even faster – 52 percent by 2030 – and the number of handicapped people will grow by 68 percent.

The already serious shortage of doctors will likely become even more acute in the coming years. The number of doctors in Israel is currently about average for the OECD per capita; however, Israel has the oldest doctors in the OECD: over half of the doctors in the system are over 55 years old. At the other end, the rate of doctors entering the health system after graduating medical school is the lowest in the OECD, all of which adds up to a worrying trend.

Flug was also hard on the educational system, whose achievements she termed “very unimpressive, and that is an understatement.”

In view of these trends, Flug cited an OECD analysis that found that the future contribution of human capital to expected growth in Israel in the next 15 years was near zero, the lowest in the OECD. She added, “There are grounds for great concern about the future contribution of human capital to our growth.”