The state is planning to appeal to the National Labor Court for an injunction to force striking nurses to return to work. After just one day of nurses’ working strictly in emergency mode, the health system has fallen behind to the extent that it may take weeks to catch up on work that was not done, Yediot Acharonot reported.
In the 24 hours the strike had been going on as of 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, some 1,000 elective procedures have been postponed, and 40,000 examinations, tests and treatments were canceled. 5,517 babies had been scheduled for examinations at Mother and Child wellness clinics, but only 361 were actually seen by staff. Many HMOs (Kupot Cholim) reported a significant drop in traffic Monday, as many tests and procedures were just not available, and patients were told that there was little that could be accomplished by a visit with their doctor.
Health Ministry officials told the newspaper that the strike had already cost the health system NIS 15 million, with some NIS 5 million of that due to a delay in releasing patients from the hospital because tests could not be administered. Nursing staff held “educational meetings” and protested outside some hospitals, demanding more money and more assistance. If progress is not made in negotiations, union leaders threatened to intensify the strike.
Speaking Tuesday night, Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said that “the strike is causing unnecessary suffering for patients. Nurses do holy work and they have a great deal of pressure, but to declare a strike is unnecessary and too far-reaching. We intend to ask the court for an injunction to end the strike, and I believe that we will be able to reach a labor agreement with the nurses that everyone will be happy with.”