As the government continues efforts to curb illegal immigration which has been blamed for a spike in crime - violent and otherwise - in parts of the country, the falling number of illegal foreign workers in the country has revealed some underlying problems within the Israeli healthcare system, which some say has become overly dependent on foreign workers.
Immigration Authority representatives revealed data on Tuesday at meeting for the Knesset Committee Foreign Workers showing an enormous gap between available caretakers and patients in need.
While 40,240 foreign healthcare workers currently reside in Israel, there are 57,329 patients in total needing at-home nursing help, the data reveals. Over 11,600 of those workers are in Israel illegally. Those numbers continue to decline, as well; while in 2007 9941 workers entered Israel and 193 left, by 2013, 2159 entered and 1782 left.
As such, many Israeli elderly are either turning to hiring workers without a visa to help with healthcare - or are left without at-home help. Illegal aliens working in healthcare are a risky investment, as they could be stopped by authorities at any time and deported. On the other end, the lack of legal workers leaves many Israelis with state-funded healthcare lacking the services guaranteed to them by the Ministry of Health.
The Committee for Visa Extensions for Healthcare Workers has over 5,000 applications waiting to be processed, the data reveals. Even though over 200 requests have been added to that roster by the government, the slow processing time may mean more disabled without medical assistance.
MK Michal Rosen, Chairman of the Foreign Workers' Committee admitted that "It is clear to us that we have a policy problem - the system clearly does not work. The situation today is that the state takes the chronic care system - the patients and the foreign healthcare workers - and gives terrible solutions for both."
She continued, "this is often a matter of saving lives. I call on the Minister of the Interior to deal immediately with the terrible distress, as this is an issue which eventually reaches us all - our parents, our close friends, and even ourselves."