On Monday, medical residents who had been threatening mass resignations because of lengthy shifts withdrew their letters, as Prime Minister Yair Lapid stepped in to mediate the matter.
The premier instructed that preparations for an agreement should be made, which include budgeting for shortening shifts to 16 hours from 26 hours in hospitals that are located in outlying areas.
Lapid said that this would go into effect in September 2023. Furthermore, he added that any hospitals that can reduce shifts right away should go ahead and do so immediately.
Representing a large number of Israeli medical residents, Mirsham has been calling for the Health Ministry to cut down shifts to 16 to 18 hours rather than 26.
It has repeatedly said that long shifts are a danger to the patients and the medical residents alike. The government had previously agreed to do so this year by April.
But, this was pushed off to next year in light of the procedural issues that would arise because of the upcoming elections in Israel.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office revealed that Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Economy Minister Orna Barbivai had been told to move ahead with the change and provide the necessary resources.
The Finance Ministry was ordered by the premier to allocate a total of NIS 66 million for budgeting the move, which had already received approval from the attorney general before the upcoming elections.
In the past, the Finance Ministry had claimed that it was not permissible to allocate a budget before the elections.
According to Lapid’s statement, the interns have to put up with insane shifts and they have to deal with impossible conditions for making life and death decisions.
He also said that while they shorten shifts, they would also harness hospitals and health maintenance organizations.
The agreement was negotiated by the Prime Minister from Berlin where he has gone for an official visit and he also spoke to the head of Mirsham, Rey Biton.
At a press conference, Mirsham’s head said that they had taken a dozen steps forward and it was a great achievement for them.
She added that they were only able to make this breakthrough because of the involvement of the Prime Minister.
She also said that resident doctors would continue with their work in order to ensure these measures are implemented in every hospital in the country, not just for the interns, but also for the public.
The Health Minister also called for resources to be allocated to the matter and said that new doctor positions had to be created in order to make up for the hours.
Nitzan Horowitz said that they needed to start with the process right away. But, the head of the Israel Medical Association, which is significantly larger than Mirsham, did not like the premier’s decision.
Zion Hagay said that the decision would not be good for the outlying areas and would be detrimental, as only hospitals in central regions can afford to reduce shifts without getting financial assistance from the government.