At a meeting with Health Ministry officials, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said that he had transferred over a billion shekels – twice – to the ministry for the improvement of psychiatric hospitals, but that he had “no idea” where the money went. “I am the one who counts the money, so I know how much I transferred. Then I hear that there is no money,” Kahlon said – adding that the fate of the funds was a mystery to him.
The comments were made in a meeting between Kahlon and health officials last week, with the proceedings recorded and reported by Yisrael Hayom. There are 11 psychiatric hospitals in Israel with a total of 3,500 beds, and hospitals complain that they are overcrowded, have aging infrastructure, and don’t have money to conduct important programs, health officials said.
At the meeting, the officials asked Kahlon what could be done about the problems. In response, he told the officials, “I sent a billion shekels to the general-director of the ministry, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, just for the psychiatric hospitals, and then I understood there was still a problem – so I sent another billion shekels for their infrastructure. I just don’t know where that money went – he told me they were transferring the money to the hospitals, and now I hear from the officials at the hospitals that they didn’t get any of it. I am not a construction executive and I am not a doctor, so when I give money for the improvement of infrastructure in hospitals I have to rely on the professionals to take care of the details.”
In a statement, the Health Ministry said that “unlike the claims made, the billion shekels that was promised for psychiatric hospital infrastructure was never transferred to the ministry. It is not clear which billion shekels is in question, but that money was never received. We are certainly anxious to receive any funds that we can get, as the system desperately needs new resources.”