Doctors at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center say they intend to strike – and if they do, the Health Ministry says they'll lose their jobs.
The doctor's committee at the hospital decided early Wednesday morning that it would declare a general strike. All medical activities normally conducted by physicians are to cease with the exception of emergency care. The strike was allegedly scheduled to end at 10:00 a.m., one source said.
The physicians are locked in a battle with the Finance Ministry over a recent salary agreement that was signed between the government and the doctors' union.
The decision came in the wake of a Health Ministry notice that doctors who participate in any job action would immediately be terminated from their positions.
A number of physicians across the country had submitted letters of resignation to the Health Ministry on Tuesday, apparently hoping the threat would move matters forward. In response, the ministry ordered Rambam to fire 10 senior physicians at the hospital who had submitted their resignations as part of the action.
More than 200 interns at hospitals throughout Israel said they would show up late for work in solidarity with the Rambam Hospital doctors. They said they are unwilling to begin their own residencies under the current conditions.
A number of medical residents are also expected to be absent from medical departments around the country for the second day in a row. Hundreds of the residents submitted their resignations to the Health Ministry on Tuesday. One hundred of the residents gathered Wednesday morning in Tel Aviv for an emergency meeting over the issue.
“We get the sense that the health system has no interest in solving the crisis,” Dr. Avner Teler told reporters at the Sourasky Medical Center. “If the system is stupid enough to push us out it will see us abandoning Israel for foreign countries.”