Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman called on nurses to go back to work, after they went out on strike Tuesday morning. “Nurses do holy work and their issues must be dealt with, but calling a strike is going too far. This is causing the ill to suffer. We will seek a court injunction to get the nurses back to work, and we will negotiate from there.”
Nurses in Israeli hospitals are providing only emergency services, such as attending during operations. All routine work, including administering tests and providing services to patients, were suspended as of 7:00 a.mTuesday. The strike was called by the national union representing nurses, who have long been complaining that they are overworked and underpaid.
Edward Haddad, chairman of the workers’ committee of nurses at the Galilee Health Center in Nahariya, told Yediot Acharonot that many of the workers “feel as if we are being treated like slaves. There has been a chronic shortage of nurses for years, and we are expected to make up the work for the nurses who were never hired. We are 145 nurses short at our hospital. Funding for the positions exists, but the hires have not been made because of bureaucracy.”
Rabbi Litzman said he was aware of the situation, but that even as deputy health minister, his hands were tied. “During the elections all the politicians talked about health, but where are all the parties now? They are hiding” to avoid recriminations from the striking nurses, he said. “This is why no one wants to be health minister. The time has come to talk about the problems in the health system and how we fix them. It bothers me that since the beginning of the new election campaign no one is talking about the health system.”