On Sunday, the Israeli government announced that the plan of reducing the hospital shifts of medical residents gradually to 18 hours from 26 hours was delayed until September next year.
Initially, the said plan was scheduled to go into effect in the beginning of the year. It was to start in 10 hospitals on the periphery, which means those that were outside the central cities of Israel.
Last year, thousands of medical internets had threatened to resign because of the long shifts. The government had announced the plan in October 2021.
At that time, the protestors had warned that it was a vague plan and no clear rollout had been provided. The Clalit Health Services HMO had filed a petition in the Labor Court in April.
The Health Ministry, along with ministers of the economy and health, had been targeted in the petition, which said that there was not enough manpower available to deal with a cut in intern hours.
The petition claimed that public health would suffer as a result. Speaking on behalf of the government, Oran Barbivai, the Economy Minister, said that they could only resolve the issue in the next Knesset.
This will not be formed until the elections happen on November 1st.
Medical residents in Israel have to work 26-hour shifts, which prompted thousands of them to resign in protest last October.
A plan was then put forward by the government about reducing the shift duration to 18 hours in 10 of the hospitals located in outlying areas.
The proposed plan had to go into effect on April 1st. However, Clalit has claimed in the petition that cutting residents’ hours would lead to a shortfall and they would have to hire 300 more people to cover for it.
A report said that the hospitals in the outlying areas asserted that they did not have enough doctors to cover the shifts and no budget for new doctor positions was approved by the Finance Ministry.
The plan had also been rejected by residents in hospitals in central locations, as they also demanded a reduction in their own shifts.
The Health Ministry made a follow-up report, which suggested reducing shifts at some central hospitals and those in the periphery to 21 hours, which was backed by the interns.
But, no changes to shifts were made during this time.
After the announcement of the plan’s postponement till next year, Mirsham, the organization of the interns, said that the Economy Ministry had succumbed to pressure.
Mirsham said that the government had made lots of announcements in the media, but the interns got nothing.
The organization asked for the assistance of the prime minister to change this decision and take responsibility.
The government had promised last year that the pilot program of shift reduction would start with 10 hospitals and they would eventually expand it.
It had also said that a committee would also be set up to ensure that doing so did not compromise on the medical care rendered.